Hindu marriage law breaks more homes than it unites: Indian Supreme Court
Sunday, 22 June 2008

Sumon K Chakrabarti

New Delhi, June 20 (bdnews24.com) -- The Supreme Court of India has expressed concern for the flood of divorce cases inundating courts, blaming a five-decade-old law that grants Hindus the right to annul their marriage.

"The Hindu Marriage Act has broken more homes than it has united," a Supreme Court bench announced in a recent observation.

Enacted in 1955, the Hindu Marriage Act has undergone several amendments up to 2003. It contains various provisions for validity of a Hindu marriage.

"In those days (1955) our forefathers never had such problems," a vacation bench of justices Arijit Pasayat and GS Singhvi observed, adding that marital disputes were at that time settled within the four walls of the home.

"The growing number of divorce cases in the country is having a disastrous effect on children of families which get broken," Pasayat said.

India, at present, has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. In 2002, it was 1.1 per cent, compared with 54.9 per cent in Sweden.

But in the cities and IT hubs divorce rates have doubled or even tripled over the past five years, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

The judges remarked sarcastically that couples were now filing "anticipatory" divorce petitions even before marriage. They also rued the misuse of the Hindu Marriage Act's provision for divorce on grounds of diseases like leprosy or mental illness.

The apex court made the observations on Wednesday, while dealing with a petition filed by a divorcee seeking custody of his child.

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