Marry to divorce
The Supreme Court’s recent observation that the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, is breaking more homes than uniting them is worth consideration. The apex court has voice concerned over the fact that a large number of divorces are being sought on the pretext of some diseases under which the legal separation is valid. For example, on provisions like insanity and leprosy, which are grounds for divorce under the Act, are helping the spouses go for divorce.
The Justice Arijit Pasayat observed: “Our grandparents also suffered from mental illness. But spouses never parted company... The effort was to save the home”. He is absolutely right, especially when we talk about marriage in India, it is a solemn and life long institution, not just ‘till feel happy’ period. Disease cannot be offered as excuse for separating ways forever. Lamenting at the current trend in society, the Supreme Court went afar when it held that nowadays, divorce petitions were being prepared even before the nuptial knot had been tied.
Well, in this materialistic times, life style particularly in metros has given rise to growing number of divorce cases, in which both husbands and wives keep the divorce option open. Perhaps education and information has taught us to be extra conscious of our rights that propel us to demand more and give less than the vice verse. Or people take due advantages of legal procedures by interpreting them in more liberal ways.
We can explore the reasons: is it too much freedom? Or preference for single family? Or too deep professional and personal engagement? Or lack of adjustment? There can be many more such causes. Office relations and ‘many options in life’ are perhaps helping men and women seek something new every time that leads to newer relations. And like old ways give way to new one, people like to change wives or husbands as they change jobs.
When we think of divorce in Indian society, a country where the concept of divorce has been traditionally alien, we think of unprecedented progress on the part of individual preferences over conjugal life that was meant for a life-long bond. However, divorce become mandatory in cases and situations where both husband and wife can no longer live together. Keeping these exceptions in mind the Indian Parliament enacted the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, allowing divorce.
Under the Act, either spouse may seek termination 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. While all other clauses are in consonance with the time that gives the liberty to husband and wife to go for divorce by mutual consent, the word ‘cruelty’ has yet to be defined. Moreover, practically, divorce does hardly end with mutual consent but in fight and frustration for separation.
There was a time when divorce was a rare phenomenon in Indian. In fact, India had the lowest divorce rates in the world. That, was years ago. But now, research findings have proved that divorce rates in India have been rising alarmingly. While in Delhi, the divorce rates have literally doubled over the past five years; in, Bangalore, the technology capital of India the divorce rates have tripled in the last four years. In this regard, Muslims enjoy the luxury of ‘triple talaq’ that has been used and abused for a long time.
If we look at the statistics, we find that New Delhi leads with the highest number of divorces in the country, with more than 8,000-9,000 cases every year, followed by Mumbai and Bangalore with 4,000 and 5,000 cases per year. Even in Kerala, the most literate state in India accounts for an increase of 350 per cent in the last 10 years, while Punjab and Haryana have recorded 150 per cent increase. The judge of a matrimonial court commented that there used to be one to two cases in the 1960s, 100-200 in 1980s, about 1,000 in 1990s, but now it has increased to about 9,000 cases per annum.
While Indian ethos is going the western way, only laws will not work when human relations are concerned. And if the current trend of divorce continues, the day is not far when pati-patni quality of the celestial relation will be a distant dream and the solemn pledge ‘till death do us part’ or ‘in sickness and in health’ will be utterances san essence.
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