Sub: INSAAF and allied NGOs demand formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe into the law making process of the upcoming Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010.
About INSAAF: “Indian Social Awareness and Activism Forum” (INSAAF) is an international think tank specializing in social and gender research. Consisting entirely of intelligentsia possessing vast collective expertise in advancing social reform, legislative consultation and advisory research, this Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has branches in both the United States and in India. We have acted as trusted advisers on national and international research studies and have provided very credible data and unbiased factual research on various legislative issues both at the state and national level both in US and in India. We have approximately 1400 active contributing research experts all over the world supplying us with their valuable opinion.
About Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill:
- The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Cabinet in 2010 following recommendation from Law Commission of India and the Honorable Supreme Court of India.
- The Law Commission of India had recommended introduction of the ground of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage for divorce, way back in 1978. By and large, the recommendation lay in cold storage.
- The Honorable Supreme Court of India also recommended the same in 2009.
- Govt. of India introduced the bill in 2010.
- Feminists created a huge hue and cry in the media about divorce being given to a man without any cost.
- Bowing to pressure from women’s organizations, the Govt. of India introduced radical property division clauses in the bill, in 2010, which was vehemently opposed by organizations fighting for men. They deposed in front of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice and opposed clauses specifically targeted at grabbing husband’s property in the event of a divorce happening.
- Around March 2012, the bill was approved by the Cabinet and it was very clear from the media reports that the objections raised by men’s rights organizations were completely ignored as the Standing Committee forwarded its recommendations to the Govt.
- And towards the end of the budget session in the third week of May, India witnessed a complete mockery of India’s law making process as we shall see it further.
INSAAF’s objections to the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010:
- Marriages are tumultuous for men. This fact reflects in the suicide statistics that are published year-over-year by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and it’s the married men who top the list of suicide. Suicide rate of husbands’ increases 4 times the rate of wives’ and 6 times the rate they are born. Every 9 minutes a married man commits suicide. This fact clearly proves how bad marriages turn out for men and if divorces are also made costlier by way of such laws, this will lead to further increase in suicides by men. Is the Government of India trying to facilitate the suicides of men?
- There is one more law in the pipeline – Matrimonial Property (Rights of Women upon Marriage Act), 2012 – which talks about making wife the co-owner of husband’s properties right at the time of marriage; then, why this law? Why is the Government hell bent on making redundant anti-male laws and convert marriage into an extortion industry thriving on men?
- In a democratic law making process, objections raised by a particular group or individual cannot be ignored without any proper justification. The panel has failed to give any just and proper reason as to why the objections raised should not be considered.
- As per Dowry Prohibition Act, any demand of cash/kind in relation to marriage is “Dowry”. Is not this law legalizing dowry to be paid to wife from husband under the cute name of “Financial Security of Wife”?
- Right to Equality is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India and cannot be disrespected under any circumstances. Current bill thoroughly violates it, as far as men are concerned.
- Feminists are claiming that nearly 80% of women do not have a place to live post-divorce. This is completely false because no such study has ever been conducted. India does not have any standard data collected as to how many divorces are happening, of those how many own a house and how many do not, how many are nuclear, joint and HUF families. Without any such data in place, any claims made are just airy claims without any data. Formulating a law on airy data is dangerous.
However, the main objection by INSAAF has been about the law making process sabotaged as explained below:
- Even though the Govt. of India was benevolent enough to include property division clauses into the bill, at the behest of women’s organizations, yet they created hue and cry about the bill not being women-friendly.
- They were unhappy that a man would get divorce without any hassles and wanted to make it more and more anti-male.
- Even, the Govt. was bowing down to their pressures, what with the Honorable Union Minister of Law and Justice, ready to amend the law after every debate in the House.
- No amendments followed the proper process of law making like, getting the recommendations reviewed by the Law Commission, taking citizenry views/comments, referring extreme views to appropriate Standing Committee rather than modifying the draft after every House Session.
- Even, after filing multiple applications under the Right to Information Act, to the Ministry of Law and Justice, we were not provided with the copy of the bill and its clauses therein.
Notwithstanding the subversion of democracy in the law making process, INSAAF and other allied NGOs from all over India have written petitions, supported by mass signatures, to the Honorable Minister of Parliamentary Affairs asking for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to be formed to probe into the apparently illegal law making process. These petitions have been sent from Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai.
The main demands in the petition seeking for a JPC to be formed to probe into the law making process are as follows:
a) Further proceedings on the law must stop till the probe is not over and must continue only after the JPC probe gives clean chit to all involved in the law-making process.
b) Immediate removal of the aggressive women’s groups (from within the Government women’s agencies or private NGO’s) from gender law making process as it hampers the effort of law making and prevents laws from adhering to the principles of natural justice
c) JPC Investigation into the actions of the Law Ministry in formulating amendments with ferocious intensity during the Parliament session in May 2012 with little national debate or consultation.
d) JPC Investigation into the reasons why the Law Commission was not consulted before the ultra vires amendments were introduced in quick succession?
e) JPC Investigation into the allegation that pressure was applied on the Government for formulation of this law and ignoring the principles of natural justice.
f) JPC Investigation into the reason behind the government hurriedly introducing this law 32 years after it was recommended by the Law commission? Was there political pressure behind the introduction of this bill?
g) JPC investigation into all the data provided to support clauses of property transfer.
Copies of these petitions have also been marked to the PMO and the leader of Opposition. We would like to end this press release with a parting note men form more than 50% of the population. Making any law that completely subverts their rights, interests and welfare may lead to cornering of men which can have socially disastrous consequences.