INDIA: No fault divorce to become new law of the land?

INDIA Times of India
No, it was Reuters that ran a story this morning about the fact that India’s cabinet has cleared a proposal to amend the Hindu Marriage Act which governs marriage in India. The proposed amendment would add “irreconcilable differences” as on of the grounds for divorce in India, effectively turning India into a no fault jurisdiction like most of the United States.
Says Reuters:

The amendment had been resisted earlier and been pending for nearly three decades now. Other grounds for divorce, which can take anywhere from six months to 20 years, include cruelty, desertion and adultery.The amendment, if approved by parliament, will make divorce easier for estranged couples, experts say, particularly in cases where a partner is deliberately delaying proceedings.

It is interesting, especially because of what is going on in New York with this very issue. New York is the only state in the Union that does not have a no fault divorce provision in the statute. Governor Paterson has a bill sitting on his desk that would change that and allow no fault divorce in New York. He’s been, for lack of a better word, pussyfooting around the issue and many in New York are getting antsy, wondering if there’s any chance he could actually veto the bill.
Perhaps he should.
But this situation in India is interesting. According to Reuters’ article, some divorces have taken up to 20 years there! And mostly it is due to husbands who wish to keep their wives controlled. This is a society where some women are actually forced into marriage and then with the laws being what they are, they can’t get out.
On this divorce blog, we have been in favor of a veto of the no fault bill in New York. Now that India is flirting with an amendment of their Hindu Marriage Act, it does sort of put the situation in New York in a different context. It sheds a different light.
New York and India are obviously two very different animals. Not having no fault in New York is very different from not having it in India…or is it? Hme…
Look, the fact that India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world is not nothing. Compared to New York were the divorce rates hovers at about 50% (in spite of the state having comparatively speaking “tough divorce laws”) India’s rates are more like 2%.
And whereas divorce is so common place in New York and the rest of the country, divorce is still very much taboo in India.
So what is the takeaway? Well, no fault in New York can only exacerbate an already elevated divorce rate. No fault in India will also likely increase the divorce rate over time but chances are, due to cultural differences, it will beĀ more measured increase than it would be in New York – and it may even save some women’s lives.
Really what no fault does, is it allows parties to get a unilateral divorce. In a society like India, that may be a good thing. That may be a lifesaver for some women. In a society like New York it could also be a life saver. Domestic violence is rampant in New York as well….it’s just that…
Well, one can’t exactly say that one is in favor of no fault in India but not in New York, can one? And since the author is calling for New York’s governor Paterson to veto the no fault bill on his desk, then the author is not going to render an opinion on what should happen in India, for fear of being accused of having a double standard, or worse, being a hypocrite.
So the author is just going to shut up and let the chips fall where they may on this one.
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