The Law Commission has floated a Consultation Paper on family law reform. The paper 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.
To reform family law, the paper discusses the introduction of new grounds for 'no-fault' divorce accompanied by corresponding changes to the provisions on alimony and maintenance.
It further discusses changes to the provisions on the rights of differently-abled individuals within marriage, the thirty-day period for registration of marriages under Special Marriage Act, uncertainty and inequality in the age of consent for marriage, compulsory registration of marriage and bigamy upon conversion.
Under the Hindu law, it discusses problems with provisions such as restitution of conjugal rights.
It suggests the inclusion of concepts such as ‘community of property’ of a married couple, abolition of coparcenary and rights of illegitimate children.
It also makes suggestions for addressing self-acquired property of a Hindu female.
Under the Muslim law, the paper suggests reform in the inheritance law through codification of Muslim law on inheritance, while ensuring that the codified law is gender just.
It also discusses the rights of a widow and the changes application to general laws such as introduction of community of (self-acquired) property after marriage and inclusion of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce.
Under Parsi law, the paper makes suggestions relating to protecting married women’s right to inherit property even if they marry outside their community.
The paper 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.
It also makes suggestions for amending the guidelines for adoption and also a suggestion to alter the language of the Act to accommodate all gender identities.
The paper discusses a gap within the 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.
The paper also discussed a number issues such as polygamy, nikah halala, settlement of a Parsi wife’s property for benefit of children and the law on adultery but since they are presently being heard by the Supreme Court, the paper did not suggest any comprehensive changes at this stage.
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