The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 was enacted by the Indian Parliament in the year 1955 with the intention of regulating the personal life among the Hindus, especially their institution of marriage, its legitimacy, conditions for divorce and applicability etc. There are many significant features in the provisions of the Act that lay down the very foundation of marriage. The basic essence of the act is that it appropriately recognizes the religious ethics and morals of the Hindus. Therefore, the Hindu Marriage Act is applicable to all Hindus, taking within its ambit various offshoots like followers of Prarthana, Arya and Brahmo Samajas and Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.
With India moving at a fast pace towards Westernization, the status of the average Indian women is also changing gradually. As a greater percentage of women become better educated, financially secure and independent, their ideas and expectations as to what a marriage should be are also undergoing a change. Westernization has greatly affected our traditions, customs, morals, ethics, relationships, bonds and values. Concepts which were earlier a trademark of Indian society are now slowly becoming redundant such as the concept of joint families. Individualization is on the rise and it is taking over the society in its entirety.
As the laws of a country reflect the views of the society, matrimonial laws all around the globe are being liberalized to match up with the changing mentality of the society. A wave of new ideas and expectations has resulted in a rise in the divorce rates in the country. Experts say 11 in every 1000 marriages are ending in a divorce.
- Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 has provisions which may serve as grounds for divorce for spouses who intend to file petitions in court for seeking the same.
- Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as a ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage.
However, it has been observed that the parties’ who have filed a petition for mutual consent suffer in case one of the parties’ abstains from court proceedings and hence, renders the proceedings inconclusive. This has been causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need of a divorce.
The Indian government has responded to a rise in marital breakups and a backlog in divorce cases by proposing an amendment to make it easier to get divorced. In the past, couples have had to prove mutual consent, adultery or abuse.
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