Supreme Court Says Hindu Divorce Law Breaks Homes
Indian Supreme Court has slammed the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), saying its divorce provisions are only breaking homes.
The court commented sarcastically Tuesday that nowadays, divorce petitions were being prepared even before the nuptial knot had been tied.
"When a marriage takes place, the respective spouses keep a divorce petition ready, anticipating a breakdown,” Justices Arijit Pasayat and GS Singhvi said, hearing a case where a couple is fighting for the custody of their 11-year-old son.
'Ego should get dissolved for the sake of the child,' the bench remarked even as the separated parents tried to air their views.
The apex court told the separated couple that it was more concerned about the welfare of the child, rather than the recrimination between the couple.
'Ultimately the child suffers. If it is a girl, the trauma is more, particularly at the time of the marriage of such children,' Justice Pasayat, speaking for the bench observed.
The court was commenting on provisions like insanity and leprosy, which are grounds for divorce under the HMA. “Our grandparents also suffered from mental illness. But spouses never parted company... The effort was to save the home,” Justice Pasayat said.
The concept of divorce has been traditionally alien to Hindu marriage. But in 1955, parliament enacted the HMA, allowing divorce. Either spouse may seek dissolution of marriage on grounds of infidelity, cruelty, desertion and conversion, or if the other party has renounced the world, suffers from a mental illness, incurable leprosy or communicable venereal disease, Hindustan Times reports.
Divorce is allowed by mutual consent, or if a spouse has been thought to be dead for seven years.
While the blunt-speaking Pasayat is known for his relatively conservative views, Law Commission member Tahir Mahmood seemed to agree with the court’s views.
“The law doesn’t conform to the ethos of Hindus. We don’t expect Hindu men or women to charge their spouses with cruelty and seek divorce. Also, the law has certain shortcomings... like, the word cruelty has not been defined,” he said.
Liberal judicial interpretations of the HMA is contributing to increasing divorces in India, Mahmood asserted.