Coordinator, Save Indian Family Foundation
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Honorable Prime Minister of India
Subject: SIFF Demands Exclusive Litigation Clause to be introduced in Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill
Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) is a non-profit non-funded NGO creating awareness about men’s problems and concerns and sensitizing the society about men’s rights. SIFF takes pride in its expertise in providing guidance and coaching to men facing crisis situation in their marriages, especially in extravagant situations like men facing false cases of dowry harassment (498A), Domestic Violence Act, maintenance cases etc.
We have been following up the ongoing debate in the media and Govt. circles about an upcoming law, Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 which seeks to introduce a new ground for divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Special Marriage Act, 1957 – The Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage Ground providing for a quick no-fault divorce after three years of separation.
Dangerous Ramifications of the proposed bill:
What looks as a convenient way to dispose of the ongoing marital disputes in the country, which is seeing a splurge in divorce cases being filed, contains a few very dangerous provisions whose ramifications can be far-reaching and taxing for the society. Research conducted by SIFF leads it to believe, at the onset, that this bill is anti-male in nature and seeks to promulgate state sponsored financial extortion targeted against husbands.
This proposed bill is unconstitutional in nature as it does not respect Articles 14, 20, 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution when it comes to married men. Married men are being offered a very raw deal in the bill as their constitutional rights of equality before law and a fair and free trial are being thoroughly jeopardized.
- This bill seeks to usurp at least 50% of the property owned by the husband at the time of divorce.
- This bill also stands to deny husbands the chance to oppose a petition of divorce filed by wife under this law, whereas an equivalent power wrests with the wife.
- This bill does not guarantee unlimited access of a man towards his children.
- This bill does not provide even a semblance of immunity to a man from other legal provisions surrounding marriage i.e. it does not bar a wife from filing a case of cruelty against the husband under section 498A / Domestic Violence against the husband while she seeks to obtain a decree of no-fault divorce.
- This bill can literally render a man bankrupt as he will first be extorted by the police under a false case of 498A IPC, then the wife will file a case under the Domestic Violence Act and seek maintenance, custody of children and right to residence, then again she can still go ahead and file a case under Section 125 CrPC to seek additional no-fault maintenance and after all this she will still be guaranteed ownership of at least 50% of husband’s property or an amount equivalent to it.
- The extremely anti-male nature of the Indian judiciary puts the Indian men at a position far precarious than one’s imagination as the judges, who are highly insensitive towards men, will first give away at least 50% of the husband’s property to wife and then slap additional maintenance, alimony and child support burdens onto the husband.
- In such a case a man will go bankrupt honoring court orders and paying litigation fees and he will lose his property as well.
- SIFF predicts that such a treatment accorded to men in marriages, for no fault of theirs, and such victimization of men may lead to rise in crime in the society.
SIFF’s Stand on the law:
SIFF completely opposes this bill in its current form as it feels this bill is thoroughly poised against men and is poisoned with a social mindset that validates burdening a man with the financial responsibility of the woman even when the marriage is over.
SIFF also despises the notion that seeks to make the wife 50% owner in the hard-earned property of a man without evaluating her contributions towards the building of the property. SIFF seeks intervention from the Honorable Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh in passing this law before consulting SIFF.
SIFF’s demands for the Bill at hand:
SIFF seeks the introduction of the Principle of Exclusive Litigation into the law as stated below:
- No such wife shall be entitled to seek divorce under the newly proposed ground of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage once she invokes any of the fault sections pertaining to marriage like initiating a case against husband and/or his family under any of the section of the IPC especially section 498A, 406, 506, 323, 307, 34, 120B, the Domestic Violence Act, the Dowry Prohibition Act, Section 125 CrPC, Divorce on the grounds of cruelty etc.
- No such husband shall also be entitled to seek divorce under the newly proposed ground of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage if he has already initiated a case under divorce for cruelty against his wife.
- Once a couple enters into litigation under the newly proposed ground of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage, they shall mandatorily enter into an MOU providing immunity to each other against further litigation i.e. they cannot file any other case against each other under either any of the matrimonial laws or any other section/act, etc. except for child custody related cases, if children are involved and the couple fail to reach a consensus of custody/visitation of children under the no-fault divorce.
SIFF feels that the above clauses are extremely necessary and important to be considered and included in the bill otherwise the problem of multifarious litigations revolving around matrimonial disputes shall not be solved and while the wife will walk away from the marriage taking divorce and 50% of the husband’s property, the man will keep on fighting other cases which is grave injustice towards husbands and cannot be allowed to be codified as a law.
In a country where we are talking of Gender Neutrality and progressive laws, SIFF is saddened by the fact that today we are at the brink of passing an extremely regressive law which, under the guise of “Financial Security to a Woman”, seeks to jeopardize the “Social Security of a Man” and one which does not cater to the social security of a man.
SIFF feels that social security which comprises of financial security as well, cannot be burdened to a single individual, rather it’s the responsibility of the society to provide measures of social security to its men and women in their old age. And burdening a man with a broken relationship is a grave crime against humanity and must be condemned thoroughly.
Hence, in wake of the above points, SIFF feels that until and unless the above mentioned Clauses of Exclusive Litigation are not made to be a part of the bill, any discussion about division of property is a direct attack on the social security of a man and such a discourse cannot continue.
SIFF is also peeved at the societal inaction for creating a male friendly society. Hence SIFF also demands that,
- National Commission for Men be instituted that can conduct surveys and studies to unearth the problems faced by men and provide recommendations to the Govt. for male welfare.
- Men Welfare Ministry be instituted that can implement the recommendations.
Clause of Exclusive Litigation as explained above should be introduced into the draft for Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill.