HYDERABAD: For S Suman and his wife, who have been living separately for close to two years now and have applied for divorce by mutual consent, the recent Cabinet approval for the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill- 2010 seems like a vindication.
Not just for them, but for many couples wanting to break out of the wedlock, it appears to have come as a big relief.
The dashboard of lawyersclubindia, a discussion board for lawyers and the public, has innumerable posts from anxious bloggers inquiring about the implementation of the amendments.
However, the Cabinet move to make the divorce process “easy” has also raised concerns over the implications it might have, including a possible spurt in divorce rates.
“In India, marriage is still considered a sacred institution.
The amendment allows the court to waive the cooling off period of six months during which couples are advised to work out differences apart from seeking counseling.
The six-month wait ensures that the decision is not taken on the spur of the moment.
In India, the intervention of friends and family members serves well to uphold the institution of marriage in this frame of time,” observes CVL Narasimha Rao, a senior advocate and president of Raksha (a forum for harassed husbands).
He estimates that on an average, 20 divorce cases are heard daily in the five Family Courts under the GHMC jurisdiction and Rangareddy.
The most common grounds for seeking divorce are mental incompatibility between partners and infidelity, followed by impotency and domestic violence.
“While the woman’s right to share in property purchased after marriage is a welcome move, the waiver of cooling off period in cases of divorce by mutual consent will pave the way for divorces dished out at the rate of fast-food!” quips CVL Narasimha Rao.
Nonetheless, not all share his views.
Dismissing fears of an escalation in divorce rates as a ‘lot of hot-air’, lawyer Vasudha Nagaraj foresees the move as a welcome change for women.
“The right to share in the property is a welcome move for the women’s movement fighting for their rights,” says the lawyer-activist who has represented women in multiple cases of marital rights and obligations in the Family Courts.
Commenting on the possible misuse of the law, Vasudha points out, “the misuse of law is a possibility but even laws against murder are misused.
The truth is, a majority of women suffer the consequences of a divorce.
Granting a share in the property will also prevent women from contesting a divorce on the grounds of grave financial instability.” Men might cry foul about the provisions even though the implementation is a safe distance away, but the amendments reflect the changing times.