Law panel floats consultation paper on family law reform

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New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) The Law Commission on Friday floated a consultation paper on family law reforms and suggested changes to several provisions including ‘no fault’ divorce, alimony, age of consent for marriage, bigamy and marriage registration.

“The consultation on family law reforms in India discusses a range of provisions within all family laws, secular or personal, and suggests a number of changes in the form of potential amendments and fresh enactments,” said a press release.

“The paper discusses the introduction of new grounds for ‘no fault’ divorce accompanied by corresponding changes to provisions on alimony and maintenance, rights of differently-abled individuals within marriage, the 30-day period for registration of marriages under Special Marriage Act; uncertainty and inequality in age of consent for marriage, compulsory registration of marriage, and conversion.”

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Under Hindu law, the paper discusses problems with a provision such as restitution of conjugal rights, and suggests inclusion of concepts such as ‘community of property’ of a married couple, abolition of coparcenary, rights of illegitimate children.

It has further suggested addressing self-acquired property of a Hindu woman.

Under Muslim law, the paper discusses the reform in inheritance law through codification of Muslim law on inheritance, but ensuring that the codified law is gender-just.

“The paper also discusses the rights of a widow, and the changes in application to general laws such as introduction of community of (self-acquired) property after marriage, inclusion of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce,” reads the release.

Under Parsi law, there are suggestions relating to protecting married women’s right to inherit property even if they marry outside their community, as per the release.

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The paper also suggests the expansion of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015, to make it into a robust secular law that can be accessed by individuals of all communities for adoption.

“There are suggestions for amending the guidelines for adoption and also a suggestion to alter the language of the Act to accommodate all gender identities,” as per the release.

The paper also discusses lacunae within custody and guardianship laws, statutory or customary, and suggests that the ‘best interest of the child’ has to remain the paramount consideration in deciding matters of custody regardless of any prevailing personal law in place.

“Although the Sixth Schedule provides exemptions to states in the North East and tribal areas, we suggest that efforts of women’s organisations in these areas be acknowledged and relied upon to suggest ways in which family law reform could be aided by the state even when direct intervention may not be possible,” it said.

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–IANS

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