August 14, 2018

Amendments To Divorce; Dissolution Of Muslim Marriages; Special Marriage; Hindu Marriage; Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Acts

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The following Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 10, 2018:

A Bill further to amend the Divorce Act, 1869; the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939; the Special Marriage Act, 1954; the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-ninth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—

This Act may be called the Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2018.

It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

Amendment To The Divorce Act, 1869

Amendment to section 10 of Act No. 4 of 1869

In the Divorce Act, 1869, in section 10, in sub-section (1), clause (iv) shall be omitted.


Amendment To The Dissolution Of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939

In the Dissolution of the Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, in section 2, in ground (vi), the words "leprosy or" shall be omitted.

Amendment To The Special Marriage Act, 1954

Amendment to section 27 of Act No. 43 of 1954

In the Special Marriage Act, 1954, in section 27, in sub-section (1), clause (g) shall be omitted.

Amendment To The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Amendment to section 13 of Act No. 25 of 1955

In the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in section 13, in sub-section (1), clause (iv) shall be omitted.

Amendment To The Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act, 1956

Amendment to section 18 of Act No. 78 of 1956

In the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 in section 18, in sub-section (2), clause (c) shall be omitted.

Statement Of Objects And Reasons

Leprosy patients were isolated and segregated from society as leprosy was not curable and the society was hostile to them. However, as a result of intensive healthcare and availability of modern medicine to cure the disease, the attitude of the society towards them began to change. The discriminatory provisions contained in various statutes against persons affected with leprosy were made prior to the medical advancements rendering leprosy a curable disease. Presently, leprosy is completely curable and can be treated with multidrug therapy. However, old legislative provisions discriminating against persons affected by leprosy continued in various laws.

2. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution in 2010 on the “Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and their family members”. India has signed and ratified the said Resolution.

3. The National Human Rights Commission in its meeting held on the 3rd January, 2008 had, inter alia, recommended amendments in certain personal laws and other legislations. Further, the Committee on Petitions of the Rajya Sabha in its 131st Report on “Petition Praying for Integration and Empowerment of Leprosy Affected Persons” had examined various statutes and desired that the concerned Ministries and State Governments would urgently consider amendments to such anachronistic and discriminatory provisions in the concerned legislations. The 20th Law Commission of India in its 256th Report titled “Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy”, also recommended removing discriminatory provisions in various statutes against persons affected with leprosy.

4. Recently, the Supreme Court has, inter alia, directed the Union Government as well as the State Governments to take necessary steps for rehabilitation and integration of leprosy affected persons into the mainstream, including steps to repeal the provisions where leprosy has been treated as a disability with a social stigma attached. 5. Having regard to the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, the observations of the Committee on Petitions of the Rajya Sabha, recommendations of the Law Commission, and observations made by the Supreme Court, the Government has decided to omit such discriminatory provisions from the Personal Laws.

6. Therefore, the Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeks to amend the Divorce Act, 1869 (4 of 1869); the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 (8 of 1939); the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (43 of 1954); the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (25 of 1955); and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (78 of 1956) so as to omit the provisions contained therein that are discriminatory to leprosy affected persons.

7. The aforesaid Bill would ensure elimination of discrimination against leprosy affected persons and provide for their integration into the mainstream of society.

8. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.

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