'Knot a bad idea'
The government has made the process of getting a divorce easier by introducing ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as grounds for divorce. This allows consenting couples to obtain a divorce quicker. Pramila Nesargi, a divorce lawyer explains, “Irretrievable breakdown has long been accepted as grounds for divorce, the Law Commission and the Supreme Court has now recommended that it be added to the actual statute of the Hindu Marriage Act and the government has taken up the recommendation.”
While some have applauded this move as the law keeping up with the times, others have condemned it as aiding the breakdown of the institution of marriage
“With this development, people with problems in their marriage will give up because divorce is no longer a gruelling process that forces you to re-consider,” says Dr Anand Rao, a counsellor. “We are already witnessing a slow dilution of essential Indian values because everyone is keen on following the individualism of the West and this is just another strike against tradition.”
But Pramila Nesargi disagrees vehemently, “I really think it is too early to say that this will cause an increase in divorces. The situation is not fundamentally altered and I wish people would understand that sometimes there are genuine grounds for a divorce.”
Pramila J, a divorcee welcomes this move as pro-women, “When I was going through my divorce, it was horrible because my husband was unfaithful, but the courts harassed me. I had no support. So, if the process is made easier, then more unhappy women will have the courage to change their lives,” she says. She also thinks that the moral police misconstrue the truth to suit their purpose, “I noticed that women always get a raw deal in terms of financial settlements and how they are treated. I just wanted it to be over, but later realised how unfair the system was,” she says.
But Dr Rao says that it doesn’t have to come to this, “Courts should encourage couples to seek counselling. If people were given emotional literacy, they would be equipped to deal with marital issues.” Not so, according to Manisha Sanjay who is happily married, but knows of someone who went through a bitter divorce. “If the situation is unbearable to both parties, then it is just common sense to let them move on. Courts should not interfere in the private lives of people” she says. Neethi B, an RJ agrees, “I’m really glad the court has decided to keep up with the times. People should not continue in an unhappy marriage just to please others.”
According to Siddharth T, a student, “Instead of complaining about changes, we should help people make better choices.”
Pramila Nesargi has the last word, “It is a form of cruelty to keep people in limbo once they have taken a mutual decision. If we don’t force people to continue driving a broken down vehicle then it is silly to force people to stay married when they clearly don’t want to.”