On 31st August, the Law Commission of India suggested that in all cases of divorce, property or income gained after marriage should be divided equally between the woman and the man. The suggestions came in as a basis to promote gender equality across communities and religions.

There is a need to recognize a woman’s role in a household, regardless of her financial contribution. She should get an equal share of the property after divorce, advised the panel. It also said that all personal and secular laws should be amended accordingly.

Revising Family Law

The Law commission’s suggestions came in its consultation paper on “Reform of Family Law”. It said that all property acquired after marriage of either spouse requires treatment as one unit between the couple.

According to the paper, other laws can also be amended to bring about changes. It suggested changes in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Special Marriage Act, 1954, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936 (for Christians), the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.

According to the panel, the measures can help prevent discrimination against women across the country.

Usually, there should be a submission of full-fledged report on a uniform civil code. But the law panel preferred to release a consultation paper, considering it had little time to bring out a comprehensive report.

The government may now seek public suggestions on the commission’s paper. The authorities may then take a step towards addressing provisions discriminating against women across personal laws.

Plight of Working Women in Society

The panel said that society inadequately values housework. It also added that that for working women, child-bearing results in a career break which affects their employment. It has major impact on women’s career and not on that of their husband’s career.

The paper said, “Therefore, it is important that regardless of whether the wife, financially or monetarily, contributes to the family income. Her contribution to a household in terms of household labor, home management, and child-bearing and care should entitle her to an equal share in a marriage.”

It also urged that this principle does not automatically translate to an “absolute” equal split of property at the end of the relationship. As in many cases, it may bring an “unfair burden” to one of them. “Thus, it is important to retain the discretion of the court in such cases.”

Furthermore, the principle of equal share in property doesn’t imply that inherited property will also be included in this division. However, the court can consider its value for determining maintenance and alimony.

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Megha Thadani is an Intern with Shethepeople.tv

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