In India, women have never been treated well even at home or at work. Women
were never given equal status to men. Women have been given unequal positions in
every sphere. Many reformists and social workers fought for the redressal of
their grievances. An age-long agitation against the discrimination of women
inside and outside the Parliament has been continued by parliamentarians, by
common men and women, and by organizations and societies. Several laws have been
set up by the Government to look into the matter of the status of women in
Indian society. All the laws reported the unequal status of women in every
sphere of life.
This Journal Article is for every woman whether she is a mother, wife, daughter,
sister, etc. which helps women to know their rights and the laws which protect
them from, inequality, discrimination, sexual harassment, or any other criminal
offense. The motive for writing this Journal Article is to protect them from the
evil eye. This Journal Article covers all legal frameworks and case laws that
protect women's rights.
History of Women in India
The status of women in India has been subject to many changes throughout
recorded Indian history. Their position in society deteriorated early in India's
ancient period, especially in the Indo-Aryan speaking regions, and their
subordination continued to be reified well into India's early modern period.
During the British East India Company rule (1757-1857), and the British Raj
(1858-1947), measures aiming at amelioration were enacted, including the Bengal
Sati Regulation, 1829, Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act, 1856, Female Infanticide
Prevention Act, 1870, and Age of Consent Act, 1891. Women's rights under the
Constitution of India mainly include equality, dignity, and freedom from
discrimination; additionally, India has various statutes governing the rights of
Several women have served in various senior official positions in the Indian
government, including that ofe President of India, the Prime Minister of India,
and The Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
However, many women in India continue to face significant difficulties. The
rates of malnutrition are exceptionally high among adolescent girls and pregnant
and lactating women in India, with repercussions for children's health. Violence
against women, especially sexual violence, is a serious concern in India.
Women's achievements in IndiaThe immovable change in the position of women can be highlighted by looking
at what has been achieved by women in the country:
- 1848: Savitribai Phule, along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, opened a
school for girls in Pune, India. Savitribai Phule became the first woman
teacher in India.
- 1879: John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune established the Bethune School in
1849, which developed into the Bethune College in 1879, thus becoming the
first women's college in India.
- Rukhmabai, the second practising female physician in India, the
publicity around whose child marriage and subsequent dissolution led.
- Sarla Thakral became the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft in 1936
- 1883: Chandramukhi Basu and Kadambini Ganguly became the first female
graduates of India and the British Empire.
- 1886: Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi became the first women
from India to be trained in Western medicine.
- 1898: Sister Nivedita Girls' School was inaugurated.
- 1905: Suzanne RD Tata becomes the first Indian woman to drive a car.
- 1916: The first women's university, SNDT Women's University, was founded
on 2 June 1916 by Dhondo Keshav Karve's social reformer with just five
- 1917: Annie Besant became the first female president of the Indian
- 1919: For her distinguished social service, Pandita Ramabai became the
first Indian woman to be awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British Raj.
- 1925: Sarojini Naidu became the first Indian-born female president of
the Indian National Congress.
- 1927: The All-India Women's Conference was founded.
- 1936: Sarla Thakral became the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft.
- 1944: Asima Chatterjee became the first Indian woman to be conferred the
Doctorate of Science by an Indian university.
- 1947: On 15 August 1947, following independence, Sarojini Naidu became
the governor of the United Provinces, and in the process became India's
first woman governor. On the same day, Amrit Kaur assumed office as the
first female Cabinet minister of India in the country's first cabinet.
- 1953: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit became the first woman (and first Indian)
president of the United Nations General Assembly.
- 1963: Sucheta Kriplani became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the
first woman to hold that position in any Indian state.
- 1966: Captain Durga Banerjee becomes the first Indian woman pilot of the
state airline, Indian Airlines.
- 1966: Indira Gandhi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India.
- 1970: Kamaljit Sandhu becomes the first Indian woman to win a Gold in
the Asian Games.
- 1972: Kiran Bedi becomes the first female recruit to join the Indian
- 1979: Mother Teresa wins the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first
Indian female citizen to do so.
- 1989: Justice M. Fathima Beevi becomes the first woman judge of the
Supreme Court of India
- 1992: Priya Jhingan becomes the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army
(later commissioned on 6 March 1993)
- 2007: On 25 July, Pratibha Patil became the first female President of
- 2009: On 4 June, Meira Kumar became the first female Speaker of Lok
- 2018: Archana Ramasundaram of 1980 Batch became the First Woman to
become the Director-General of Police of a Paramilitary Force as DG,
Sashastra Seema Bal.
- 2018: In February, 24-year-old Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi of the
Indian Air Force became the first Indian female fighter pilot to fly solo.
She flew a MiG-21 Bison, a jet aircraft with the highest recorded landing
and take-off speed in the world.
- 2019: On 2 December 2019, sub-lieutenant Shivangi became the first woman
pilot in the Indian Navy.
- Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is probably the first woman entrepreneur in India.
Legal Framework of Women's Law in IndiaConstitutional Provisions
Fundamental Rights and Prohibition of Discrimination of Women
Part III, consisting of Articles 12 to 35, relating to the Fundamental Rights,
is the 'heart' of the Constitution.
In some Articles of the Constitution, discrimination against women has been
explicitly prohibited. Article 15 clearly states that:
- The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of
religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them.
- Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special
provision for women and children.
Article 16 of the Constitution of India also explicitly mentions equality of
opportunity for all and prohibits discrimination against women. It clearly
- There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters
relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
- No citizen shall, on the ground only of religion, race, caste, sex,
descent place of birth, residence, or any of them, be ineligible for, or
discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the
The following articles of the Constitution of India provide equal
opportunities for women implicitly as they areapply all persons of both sexes.
Under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, the State shall not deny to any
person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the
territory of India.
As per Article 21 of the Constitution of India, no person shall be deprived of
life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
According to Article 21A of the Constitution of India, the State shall provide
free and compulsory education to all children between the age of six and
fourteen years in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine.
Under Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India, all citizens shall have the
right (a) to freedom of speech and expression; (b) to assemble peaceably and
without arms; (c) to form associations or unions; (d) to move freely throughout
the territory of India; (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of
India and (g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade
or business. These six 'freedoms' are, however, not absolute. The Constitution
itself restricts these freedoms in clauses (2) to (6). The restriction which may
be imposed by the State under any of the clauses must be reasonable restrictions
and not arbitrary.
As per Article 22 of the Constitution of India, no person who is arrested shall
be detained in custody without informing the grounds for such arrest and he
should be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four
hours of such arrest.
Article 20 states that no person shall be convicted of any offense for violation
of a law in force and no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same
offense than once and no person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be
a witness against himself.
Article 23 of the Constitution of India prohibits traffic in human beings and
Under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India, all persons are equally
entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and
As per Article 27 of the Constitution of India, no person shall be compelled to
pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of
expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or
Under Article 28(3) of the Constitution of India, no person attending any
educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State
funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction or to attend
any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution.
Though the discrimination against women is explicitly prohibited in Articles 15
and 16 of the Constitution of India this type of prohibition of discrimination
against sex is mingled with the prohibition of other discrimination on the
ground of religion, race, caste, place, or birth. In all other fundamental
rights, the words 'citizen', and 'person' mean both male person and female
person. Hence women are equally entitled to the protection of all fundamental
rights along with men. Therefore, is no discrimination against women relating to
the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
Women's Quota in panchayats and Municipalities
According to Article 40 of the Constitution of India, the State shall take steps
to organize village panchayats and endow them with such power and authority as
may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.
Reservation of seats for women in Panchayats and Municipalities has been
provided in Article 243-D and Article 243-T of the Constitution of India. Part
IX and IX-A have been added to the Constitution by the Constitution (73rd
Amendment) Act, 1992 and the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act. 1992 popularly
known as the Panchayat Raj and Nagar Palika Constitution Amendment Acts with
Articles 243, 243-A to 243-D and Article 243-P to 243-ZG.
Reservation of Seats for women in PanchayatsArticle 243 D of the Constitution of India provides that:
- In every Panchayat, seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and
Scheduled Tribes. The number of seats so reserved shall be, as nearly as may
be, in the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by
direct election in that Panchayat as the population of the Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes in that Panchayat area bears to the total area and such
seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.
- Out of a total number of seats reserved under clause (1) not less than
one-third of seats shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- Out of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in
every Panchayat not less than one-third (including the number of seats
reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes women) seats shall be
reserved for women. Such seats may be allotted by rotation to different
constituencies in a Panchayat.
- The offices of the Chairpersons in the Panchayats at the village or any
other level shall be reserved for SC's and ST's and women in such manner as
the Legislature of a State shall be, as nearly as possible, in the same
proportion to the total number of such offices in the Panchayats at each
level in proportion of the total population of the SC's and ST's in the
State. However, not less than one-third of the total number of the offices
of Chairpersons in the Panchayat at each level shall be reserved for women.
The number of offices reserved under this clause shall be allotted by
rotation to different Panchayats at each level.
- The reservation of seats under clauses (1) and (2) and the reservation
of offices of Chairpersons (other than the reservation for women) under
clause (4) shall cease to have an effect on the expiration of the period
specified in Article 334 (i.e., 50 years).
- Nothing in this Part shall prevent the Legislature of a State from
making any provision for reservation of seats in any Panchayat offices of
Chairpersons in the Panchayat at any level in favor of a backward class of
Reservation of Seats for Women in MunicipalitiesAccording to Article 243-T of the Constitution of India:
- Seats shall be reserved for Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribes in every
Municipality. The number of seats reserved for them shall be as nearly as
may be, in some proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by
direct election in that Municipality as the population of the SCs and STs in
the Municipal area bears to the total population of that area and such seats
may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.
- No less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under the
clause shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Caste, or, as
the case may be, to the Scheduled Tribes.
- No less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women
belonging to the SCs and STs of the total number of seats to be filled by
direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women and such
seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a
- The Offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved for
the SCs, the STs and women in such manner as the Legislature of a State may,
by law, provide.
- The reservation of seats under clauses (1) and (2) and the reservation
of offices of Chairperson (other than the reservation for women) under
clause (4) shall cease to have an effect on the expiration of the person
specified in Article 334.
- Nothing in this Part shall prevent the Legislature of a State from
making any provision for reservation of seats in any Municipality or offices
of Chairpersons in the Municipality in favour of the backward caste of the
Fundamental Duties towards Women
Part IV A which consists of only one Article 51-A was newly added to the
Constitution by the 42nd Amendment, 1976. This Article for the first time
specifies a code of ten fundamental duties for citizens. Articles 51-A (e) is
related to women. It states that "it shall be the duty of every citizen of India
to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people
of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional
diversities; to renounce practice derogatory to the dignity of women.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 9-16
Offence against Women under Indian Penal Code (IPC)
The Indian Penal Code, 1860, lays down the provisions to punish the offender for
onerous offences against women.
Sections under IPC deals with the crime against women such as:
- Acid Attack (Section 326A and 326B)
- Rape (Section 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, and 376E)
- Attempt to commit rape (Section 376/511)
- Kidnapping and abduction for a different purpose (Section 363-373)
- Murder, Dowry's death and Abetment of Suicide (Section 302, 304B and
- Cruelty by husband or his relatives (Section 498A)
- Outraging the modesty of women (Section 354A)
- Sexual harassment (Section 354A)
- Assault on women with intent to disrobe a woman (Section 354B)
- Voyeurism (Section 354C)
- Stalking (Section 354D)
- Importation of girls up to 21 years of age (Section 366B)
- Adultery (Section 496)
- Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (Section
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Bare Act)
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (Nirbhaya Act)
Is Indian legislation passed by the Lok Sabha on 19 March 2013, and by the Rajya
Sabha on 21 March 2013, which provides for amendment of the Indian Penal Code,
Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on laws related to
sexual offences. The Bill received Presidential assent on 2 April 2013 and was
deemed to be effective from 3 February 2013. It was originally an Ordinance
promulgated by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, on 3 February 2013, in
light of the protests in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.
The National Commission for Women Act, 1990
Realising the need of setting up an agency to fulfil the surveillance function
as well as to facilitate redressal of the grievances of women, the Government
decided to set up a Commission for women and enacted the National Commission for
Women Act, 1990. It extends to the whole of India.
Section 3 - Constitution of National Commission of Women
- The Central Government shall constitute a body to be known as the
National Commission for Women to exercise the powers conferred on and to
perform the function assigned to it under this Act.
- The Commission shall consist of:
- A Chairperson committed to the cause of women, to be nominated by the
- Five members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst
person of ability, integrity and standing who has had experience in law or
legislation, trade unionism, management of an industry or organisation committed to
increasing the employment potential of women, women's voluntary organisation
(including women activists), administration, economic development, health,
education or social welfare. It must consist of at least one member each from
amongst persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
- A Member-Secretary to be nominated by the Central Government, who shall
- An expert in the field of management, organisation, structure or sociological
- An officer who is a member of a civil service of the Union with
Section 4: Term of Office and Conditions of Services of Chairpersons and
- The Chairperson and every member shall hold office for such period not
exceeding three years, as may be specified by the Central Government on this
- The Chairperson or a Member (other than the Member-Secretary who is a
member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or holds a
civil post under the union) may by writing and addressed to the Central
Government resign from the office of Chairperson or, a the case may be, of
the Member at any time.
- The Central Government shall remove a person from the office of
Chairperson or a Member referred in sub-section (2) if the person:
- Become an r> b) Gets convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an office
that in the opinion of the Central Government involves moral turpitude;
- Become of unsound mind and stand so declared by a competent Court;
- Refused to act or becomes incapable of acting;
- Is, without obtaining a leave of absence from the Commission, absent
from three consecutive meetings of the Commission; or
- In the opinion of the Central Government has so abused the position of
Chairperson or Member as to render that person's continuance in office,
detrimental to the Public Interest. However, no person shall be removed
under this clause until that person has been given a reasonable opportunity
of being heard in the matter.
Section 5 - Officer and other Employees of the Commission.
Section 10 - Functions of the Commission
- The Central Government shall provide the Commission with such officers
and employees as may be necessary for the efficient performance of the functions of
the Commission under this Act.
- The salaries and allowances payable to and the other terms and
conditions of service of the officers and other employees appointed for the
Commission shall be such as may be prescribed.
Section 15 - Public Servants
The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions,
- Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided
for women under the Constitution and other laws
- Present to the Central Government, annually and at such other times as
the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;
- Make in such reports, recommendations for the effective implementation
of those safeguards for improving the conditions of women by the Union or
- Review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the Constitution
and other laws affecting women and recommend amendments thereto to suggest
remedial legislative, measures to meet any lacunae, inadequacies or
shortcomings in such Legislation;
- Take up the case of violation of the Constitution and other laws
relating to women with the appropriate authorities;
- Look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to:
- deprivation of women's rights,
- non-implementation of laws enacted to protect women and also to achieve
the objective of equality and development,
- non-compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at
mitigating hardships and ensuring the welfare and providing relief to women
and take-up the issue arising out of such matters with appropriate
- Call for special studies or investigation into specific problems or
situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and
identify the constraints to recommend strategies for their removal;
- Undertake promotional and educational research to suggest ways of
ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and identifying factors
responsible for impeding their advancement, such as lack of access to
housing and access to housing and basic service, inadequate support service
and technologies for reducing drudgery and occupation health hazards and for
increasing their productivity;
- Participating and advising on the planning process for the
socio-economic development of women;
- Evaluate the progress of the development of women under the Union and
- Inspect or cause to be inspected a jail, remand home, women's
institution or another place of custody where women are kept as prisoners or
otherwise, and take up with the authorities concerned for remedial action if
- Fund litigation involving issues affecting a large body of women;
- Make a periodical report to the Government on any matter pertaining to
women and in particular various difficulties under which women toils;
- Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government;
- The Central Government shall cause all the reports referred to in clause
(b) of the sub-section (1) to be laid before each House of the Parlament along with
a memorandum explaining the action taken or proposal to be taken on the
recommendations relating to the Union and the reason for the non-acceptance of
any such recommendations.
- Where any such report or any part thereof relates to any matter with
which any State Government is concerned, the Commission shall forward a copy
of such report or part thereof to such State Government who shall cause it
to be laid before the Legislation of the State along with a memorandum
explaining the action taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations
relating to the State and the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of such
- The Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred to in
clause (a) or sub-clause (f) of sub-section (I), have all the powers of a
Civil Court trying a suit and, in particular, in respect of the following
- Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of
India and examining him on oath;
- Requiring the discovery and production of any document;
- Receiving evidence on affidavits;
- Requesting any public record or copy thereof from any Court or office;
- Issue Commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents; and
- Any other matter which may be prescribed.
Chairperson, Member and Staff of the Commission shall be deemed to be public
servants within the meaning of Section21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Section 16 - Central Government to Consult Commission
The Central Government shall consult the Commission on all major policy matters
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 17-22
Matrimonial Rights of WomenRestitution of Conjugal Rights
The restitution of conjugal rights is a remedy available to a spouse aggrieved
by the desertion of the other spouse, without any reasonable cause. This right
is available for both husband and wife.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights under the Special Marriage Act, 1954
As per Section 22 of the Special Marriage Act, when either the husband or the
wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other,
the aggrieved party may apply by petition to the District Court for restitution
of conjugal rights, and the Court, on being satisfied with the truth of the
statements made in such petition, and that there is no legal ground why the
application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights
The decree of judicial separation does not sever or dissolved the marriage. It
provides time and an opportunity for reconciliation and adjustment. Mutual
rights and obligations arising out of a marriage are suspended. The parties can
live separately keeping their status of wife and husband till their lifetime if
they fail to reconcile. If they want to separate they can file a petition for
divorce on the ground of judicial separation. Thus, the decree for judicial
separation permits the parties to live apart without any obligation for either
party to cohabit with the other.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 48-49
Protecting Women from DivorceDivorce of Hindu Women through the Hindu Marriage Act, 1995
Hindus considered the separation of a couple as a sin and hence the question of
living separately did not arise in the olden days. Once married, the tie lasts
till the end of life. In modern days marriage is considered a relation of
consciousness. Divorce has been introduced in modern law and the Government
enacted the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 containing the provisions of marriage and
Divorce Section 13 Hindu Marriage Act, 1995:
Divorce by mutual consent
Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- Any marriage solemnized may, on a petition presented by either the
husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that
the other party:
- Has, after the solemnization of the marriage, had voluntary sexual
intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse; or
- Has caused to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion; or
- Has been incurable of unsound mind, or has been suffering continuously
or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent
that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the
- A wife may also present a petition for the dissolution of her marriage
by a decree of divorce on the ground:
- In the case of any marriage, solemnized before the commencement of this
Act, that the husband had married again before such commencement or that any
other wife of the husband married before such commencement was alive at the
time of the solemnization of the marriage of the petitioner. But, in either
case, the other wife is alive at the time of the presentation of the
- That the husband has, since the solemnization of the marriage, been
guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality; or
- That her marriage (whether consummated or not) was solemnized before she
attains the age of fifteen years and she has repudiated the marriage after
attaining that age but before attaining the age of eighteen years.
Divorce of women under Muslim Law
- Subject to the provisions of this Act a petition for dissolution of
marriage by a decree of divorce may be presented to the District Court by
both the parties to marriage together, whether such marriage was solemnized
before or after commencement of The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976, on
the ground that they have been living separately for one year or more that
they have not been able to live together and that they have mutually agreed
that marriage should be dissolved.
- On the motion of both the parties made not earlier than six months after
the date of the presentation of the petition referred to in subsection (1)
and not later than eighteen months after the said date, if the petition is
not withdrawn in the meantime, the Court shall, on being satisfied, after
hearing the parties and after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, that a
marriage has been solemnized and that the averments in the petition are
true, pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage to be dissolved with
effect from the date of the decree.
Divorce (Talak) means the repudiation of the wife by the husband in the exercise
of his absolute power conferred on him by law. According to Muslim Law, any
husband, who is of sound mind and has attained puberty, may his wife divorce
whenever he desires, without assigning any reason at his whim or caprice.
Under Muslim Law, divorce by the wife is possible only in the following
- Where the husband delegates to the wife the right of Talak (Talak-e-Tafweez
- Where she is a party to divorce by mutual consent (Khula and Mubarat)
- Where she wants to dissolve the marriage under The Dissolution of Muslim
Marriage Act, 1939.
Khula and Mubarat are the two forms of divorce by mutual consent. Khula means
divorce by the wife with the consent of her husband on payment of something to
her as compensation. In Mubarat both the parties are equally willing to dissolve
In the talak, khula and mubaraat the wife is bound to observe the iddat. The
woman has no absolute right to obtain a divorce in Muslim Law. She has that
right only under certain specific contingencies.
Judicial Divorce of Muslim women through The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act,
The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 affords protection to Muslim
married women from the rigidity of the textual personal law of Muslims. The
wife's right to divorce, which was denied to her was restored to her under this
Act on certain grounds specified in it. This Act extends to the whole of India
except the State Jammu and Kashmir. It is considered a landmark achievement in
respect of matrimonial relief to a Muslim wife.
Grounds for decree for dissolution of marriage (Section 2)
A woman married under Muslim Law shall be entitled to obtain a decree for the
dissolution of her marriage on any one or more of the following grounds, namely:
- That whereabout of the husband has not been known for a period of four years.
A decree passed on this ground of disappearance for a period of four years shall
not take effect for a period of six months from the date of such decree, and if
the husband appears either in person or through an authorised agent within the
period and satisfies the Court shall set aside the said decree. Under Section 3
of the Act, a notice has to be served on the heirs of the husband when the
husband's whereabouts are not known.
- That the husband has neglected or has failed to provide for her
maintenance for a period of two years.
- That the husband has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of
seven years or upwards. No decree shall be passed on this ground until the
sentence has become final.
- That the husband has failed to perform, without reasonable cause, his
marital obligations for a period of three years.
- That the husband was impotent at the time of marriage and continues to
be so. Before passing a decree on the ground of impotency the Court shall,
on application by the husband, make an order requiring the husband to
satisfy the Court within a period of one year from the date of such order
that he has ceased to be impotent, and if the husband so satisfies the Court
within such period, no decree shall be passed on the ground of impotency.
Divorce of Christian WomenThe Divorce Act, 1869
The Divorce Act, of 1869 relates to the divorce of a person professing the
Christian religion. This Act extends to the whole of India except Jammu and
Kashmir. This Act is applicable if one of the parties to the proceeding is a
Grounds for dissolution of marriage
According to Section 10 of the Divorce Act, 1869
Dissolution of marriage by Mutual Consent
Under Section 10-A of the Divorce Act 1869
- Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of the
Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act, 2001, may, on a petition present to the
District Court either by the husband or the wife, be dissolved on the ground
that since the solemnized of the marriage, the respondent:
- Has committed adultery; or
- Has ceased to be Christian by conversion to another religion; or
- Has been incurable of unsound mind for a continuous period of not less
than two years immediately proceeding the presentation of the petition; or
- Has, for a period of not less than two years immediately preceding the
presentation of the petition, been suffering from a virulent and incurable
form of leprosy; or
- Has, for a period of not less than two years immediately preceding the
presentation of the petition, been suffering from a venereal disease in a
communicable form; or
- Has treated the petitioner with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable
apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that it would be harmful or
injurious for the petitioner to live with the respondent.
Subject to the provisions of this Act and Rules made thereunder, a petition for
dissolution of marriage may be presented to the District Court by both the
parties to marriage together, whether such marriage was solemnized before or
after the commencement of The Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act, 2001, on the
ground that they have been able to live together and they have mutually agreed
that the marriage should be dissolved.
Divorce of Parsi Women
The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1939
Suits of dissolution
Under Section 31 of the Act, if a husband or wife shall have been continually
absent from his or her wife or husband for a space of seven years, and shall not
have been heard of as being alive within that time by those persons who would
have naturally heard of him or her he or she been alive, the marriage of such
husband or wife may, at the instance of either party thereto, be dissolved.
Grounds for divorce
According to Section 32 of the Act, any married person may sue for divorce on
any one or more of the following grounds, namely -
Divorce by Mutual Consent
Under Section 32B of the Act
- That the marriage has not been consummated within one year after its
solemnization owing to the wilful refusal of the defendant to consummate it;
- That the defendant at the time of the marriage was of unsound mind and
has been habitually so up to the date of the suit.
- That the defendant was, at the time of marriage, pregnant by some person
other than the plaintiff. But, divorce shall not be granted on this ground
- the plaintiff was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the fact
- the suit has been filed within two years of the date of marriage, and
- marital intercourse has not taken place after the plaintiff came to know
of the fact.
Subject to the provision of this Act, a suit for divorce may be filed by both
the parties to marriage together, whether such marriage was solemnized before or
after the commencement of The Parsi Marriage and Divorce (Amendment) Act, 1988,
on the ground that they have been living separately for a period of one year or
more, that they have not been able to live together and that they have mutually
agreed that the marriage should be dissolved. But, no suit under this Section
shall be filed unless at the date of the filing of the suit on year has lapsed
since the date of the marriage.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 53-55,
Maintenance of the Women
Maintenance of Hindu Women
According to Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956:
- Subject to the provisions of this Section wife, whether married before
or after the commencement of this Act, shall be entitled to be maintained by
her husband during her lifetime.
- A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance
from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to
- A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband
without forfeiting her claim to maintenance:
- If he is guilty of desertion, that is to say, of abandoning her without
reasonable cause and without her consent or against her wish or of wilfully
- If he has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable
apprehension in her mind that it will be harmful or injurious to live with
- If he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy;
- If he has any other wife living;
- If there is any other cause justifying her living separately.
Maintenance of Muslim women
The wife has an absolute right of maintenance from the husband. Even after
divorce, the wife is entitled to maintenance during iddat. But the wife is not
entitled to maintenance even during iddat when the marriage is dissolved by the
death of the husband because in that case she is entitled to inheritance. The
right of the wife to maintenance exists in spite of the fact that she can
maintain herself out of her own property.
An obedient invalid wife, incapable of
matrimonial intercourse, is entitled to maintenance. The husband is bound to
maintain his wife even if she is residing in her father's house and her husband
does not require her to be in his own house and can cohabit with her there. When
the husband is incapable of consummating the marriage on account of his minority
or incapacity, the wife is entitled to maintenance.
Once the husband divorces the wife, she becomes entitled to a maintenance
allowance from her ex-husband. Her right to claim maintenance would come to an
end only if she remarries or lives in adultery or if she voluntarily surrenders
her right of maintenance.
Maintenance of Christian Women
Divorce Act, 1869 deals with the maintenance of Christian women
According to Section 36 of the Act, any suit of divorce under this Act, whether
it be instituted by a husband or a wife, and whether or not she has obtained an
order of protection, the wife may present a petition for expenses of the
proceedings and alimony pending the suit. Such petition shall be served on the
husband; and the Court, on being satisfied with the truth of the statement
therein contained, may make such order on the husband for payment to the wife of
expenses of the proceedings and implying pending of the suit as it may deem
just. But, the petition for the expenses of the proceedings and alimony pending
the suit shall, as far as possible, be disposed of within sixty days of service
of such petition on the husband.
Maintenance of Parsi Women
Maintenance under The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936
The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 deals with the matter of relief and
maintenance of Parsi women.
According to Section 37 of the Act, the defendant in a divorce case may make a
counter-claim for any relief he or she may be entitled to under this Act.
As per Section 39 of the Act, where in any suit of divorce under this Act, it
appears to the Court that either the wife or the husband, as the case may be,
has no independent income sufficient for her or his support and the necessary
expenses of the suit, it may, on the application of the wife or the husband,
order the defendant to pay to the plaintiff, the expenses of the suit, and such
weekly or monthly sum, during the suit, having regards to the plaintiffs own
income and the income of the defendant.
It may seem to the Court to be
reasonable. But, the application for the payment of the expenses of the suit,
shall as far as possible, be disposed of within sixty days from the date of
service of notice on the wife or the husband.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2019) 72, 78,
Succession of Women
Religion plays a major role in the succession of property by women as the
personal laws of religious communities are mostly dominated by the scriptures of
those religions. In the earlier period, the law of succession was mostly
uncodified and followed according to the traditions of those communities. As
society moved toward civilization, the government started to codify the laws of
Right to Succession of Hindu Women
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was made to codify the law relating to intestate
succession among Hindus. It extends to the whole of India except the State of
Jammu and Kashmir. The Act applies to any person, who is a Hindu by religion in
any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a
follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana, or Arya Samaj.
This Act is applicable to all
the Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas and Sikhs by religion. Any text, rule or
interpretation of Hindu Law or any custom or usage as part of that law in force
immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have effect with
respect to any matter for which provision is made in the Hindu Succession Act,
1956 and any other custom in force immediately before the commencement with any
of the provisions contained in this Act.
This Act shall not apply to any
property succession which is regulated by the Indian Succession Act,1925 by
reason of the provisions contained in Section 21 of the Special Marriage Act,
1954 and any estate which descends to a single heir by the terms of any covenant
or agreement entered into by the ruler of any Indian State with the Government
of India or by the terms of any enactment passed before the commencement of this
Right to Succession of Muslim Women
The Muslim Law of succession is uncodified, there is no partition of inherited
property. Succession opens only on the death of the ancestor, and then alone the
property vests in the heirs. The Islamic Law of succession is based on the
tenets of the Holy Quran. No woman was excluded from inheritance only on the
basis of sex. Women have equal rights to share the property of the deceased.
Islamic principles of succession according to Prophet
The Principles are:
Right to Succession of Christian Women
- Husband and wife being equal are entitled to inherit from each other.
- Some near females and cognates are also recognized and enumerated as
- Parents and certain other ascendants are made heirs even when there are
- The newly created heirs are given specified shares along with customary
heirs who are residuary.
The Indian Succession Act, 1925 provides that succession to immovable property
in India of a person deceased who is not a Hindu, Mohammedan, Buddhist, Sikh or
Jain, shall be regulated by the law of India.
Section 27 of The Indian Succession Act, 1925 states that there is no
distinction for the purpose of the succession:
Right to Succession of Parsi Women
- Between those who are related to a person decease through his father, and
those who are related to him through his mother; or
- Between those who are related to a person deceased by the full blood,
and those who are related to him by the half-blood; or
- Between those who were actually born and those who were only conceived
in the womb; but who have been subsequently born alive.
The India Succession Act, 1925 contains the provisions for Parsi intestates in
Sections 50 to 56
According to Section 50 of The Indian Succession Act, 1925, for the purpose of
intestate succession among Paris:
- There is no distinction between those who were born and those who were
conceived in the womb.
- If an intestate dies without leaving a widow or widower of any lineal
descendant the property shall be divided.
- Where a widow of the intestate has married again, she shall not be
entitled to receive any share of the property.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 101,
113, 118, 121
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
This Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
This Act came into being on 1st July 1961. The Act applies to all Indian
Nationals, Hindus, Mohammedans or any other Community of India except the
domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir, and also excludes the dower or Mehar received or
The Muslim Personal Law. The Mohammedans are subjected to this Act
where any breach or act of commission is done by a Muslim, which is beyond the
exemption provided to them under Section 2 of this Act. The Act is applicable to
all Indians without any consideration of caste, creed or religion.
According to Section 2 of The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 'dowry' means any
property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or
- By one party to the other party in the marriage; or
- By the parents of either party in a marriage or by another person to
either party in the marriage or any other person.
Section 3 - Penalty for giving or taking dowry
Section 4 - Penalty for demanding dowry
Section 5 - Agreement for giving or taking dowry to be void
Section 6 - Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs
Section 7 - Cognizable of offences
Section 8 - Offence to be cognizable for a certain purpose and to be non-bailable
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 249
Maternity is a natural function of a woman. It is treated as a contingency and
insecurity requiring protection. Maternity coverage is more extensive than
sickness coverage as maternity is entirely different from sickness. Maternity
benefit is required only for women workers. Hence International Labour
Organisation (ILO) adopted a Convention in 1919 concerning the employment of
women before and after childbirth.
The main conclusions of that convention which
is considered as 'Maternity Protection Convention
' 1919 are:
- A women employees should have the right to maternity leave with wages
for 12 weeks. The mother is entitled to maternity benefits whether the child
is legitimate or illegitimate. Women should have the right to leave their
work by producing a medical certificate stating that their confinement will
probably take place within six weeks.
- During the twelve weeks of maternity leaves, she should be paid benefits
sufficient for the full health maintenance for herself and her child.
- The confined woman is also entitled to medical benefits comprising free
attendance of a doctor or a certified midwife along with a maternity
- If a women worker is nursing her child at the workplace she should be
allowed half an hour of recess twice a day during her working hours for
feeding the child and these intervals should be treated as on duty.
- There should be a security of employment during pregnancy, confinement,
or illness due to pregnancy or confinement.
- She should not be dismissed for absence from her work for a longer
period as a result of illness medically certified.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 331
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971Need of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
In India during the earlier days, medical facilities were not adequate. Under
certain circumstances, women wanted to terminate the pregnancy due to many
reasons such as carrying illegitimate children etc. Married women preferred
abortion to prevent the birth of a female child and in the process, most of them
also lost their lives.
The termination of pregnancy was attended by quacks and
unregistered and unqualified medical practitioners and caused irreparable damage
to the health in many cases. Previously, abortion was considered a crime, for
which the mother, as well as the abortionist, could be punished except where it
had to be induced in order to save the life of the mother under Section 312 to
316 of the Indian Penal Code. Despite these penal provisions, abortions were
continued in India for various social, medical and superstitious reasons.
In recent, years health services are available everywhere and the service
hospitals with qualified doctors are available to all classes of people. The
Government proposed to liberalise certain existing provisions relating to
termination of pregnancy to avoid loss of the mother's health, strength and
sometimes life. The Government enacted The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,
1971 to provide for the termination of pregnancy by registered medical
practitioners where its continuity would involve a risk to life or grave injury
to her physical or mental health.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 275
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits traffic in human beings, such as women,
children, begar, and other similar forms of forced labour. In Raj Bahadur vs.
Legal Remembrance (AIR 1953 Cal. 522), the Court held that 'Traffic in human
beings' means selling and buying men and women like goods and includes immoral
traffic in women and children for immoral or other purposes.
According to Section 2 (a) (i) Brothel includes any house, room (conveyance) or
place or any portion of any house, room, conveyance, or place which is used for
purposes of sexual exploitation or abuse for the gain of another person or for
the mutual gain of two or more prostitutes.
In different cases, the Court commented on brothels as follows:
- Prostitution of a woman should be for the gain of another person as to
the premises to be called a brothel.
- The residence of a single woman who practices prostitution for her own
livelihood, will not amount to a brothel.
- people of opposite sexes come to and have illicit intercourse on the
According to Section 2 (e) of the Act, 'prostitution' means the sexual
exploitation or abuse of a person for commercial purposes and the expression
'prostitute' shall be construed accordingly.
In different cases, the Court commented on prostitution as follows:
- Prostitution involves indiscrimination employment of women's for hire
- Prostitution suggests sexual relations for hire.
- Women surrender their bodies for monetary consideration to someone who
is not legally entitled to have sexual intercourse with them.
Section 3 - Punishments for keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as
Section 4 - Punishments for living on the earnings of prostitution.
Section 5 - Procuring, inducing or taking a person for the sake of prostitution.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 297,298
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
According to Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,
2005, for the purposes of this Act, any act, omission or commission, or conduct
of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
Complaint to Protection Officer
- Harm or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb, or
well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to
do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and
emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
- Harasses, harms, injuries or endangers the aggrieved person with a view
to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand
for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
- Has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related
to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or
- Otherwise, injuries cause harm, whether physical or mental, to the
According to Section 4 of the Act, any person who has reason to believe that an
act of domestic violence has been or is being committed may inform the
Protection Officer. It also lays down that the person who is providing the
information in good faith shall be exempt from any civil or criminal liability
for giving such information.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 317, 319
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION, and
REDRESSAL) Act, 2013
Sexual harassment in the workplace is considered a violation of women's right to
equality, life and liberty. It creates an insecure and hostile work environment,
which discourages women's participation in work, thereby adversely affecting
their social and economic empowerment and the goal of inclusive growth.
The Act was passed by the Indian Parliament houses Lok Sabha on 3rd September
2012 and then passed by Rajya Sabha on 26th February 2013. The Bill got approved
by the President on 23rd April 2013. The Act came into force on 9th December
2013. This Law is the base of the Vishaka Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual
Harassment (POSH) introduced by the Supreme Court of India.
Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (1997)
Sexual Harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination against women and
recognised that it violates the constitutional rights to equality and provided
guidelines to address the issue pending the enactment of suitable legislation.
Prevention of sexual harassment
Section 3 of the Act provides that:
- No women shall be subjected to sexual harassment at any workplace.
- The following circumstance, among other circumstances, if it occurs or
is present in relation to or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual
harassment may amount to sexual harassment:
- The implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her
- The implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her
- The implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment
- Humiliating treatment is likely to affect her health or safety.
Dr S.R. Myneni Laws Relating to Women (3rd Edition Asia Law House 2013) 229,232
Tuka Ram and Anr vs. State of Maharashtra on 15 September 1978H. R. Khanna and M. N. Shroff for the Respondent. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by KOSHAL, J.-This appeal by special leave was directed against the
judgment dated the 12th October 1976 of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay (Nagpur
Bench) reversing a judgment of acquittal of the two appellants of an offence
under section 376 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code recorded by the
Sessions Judge, Chandrapur, on the 1st of June 1974, and convicting Tukaram,
appellant No. 1, of an offence under section 354 of the Code and the second
appellant named Ganpat of one under section 376 thereof. The sentences imposed
by the High Court on the two appellants are rigorous imprisonment for a year and
5 years respectively.
Vishaka & Others vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors on 13 August 1997This Writ Petition was filed for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of
working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India in view
of the prevailing climate in which the violation of these rights was not
uncommon. With the increasing awareness and emphasis on gender justice, there
was an increase in the effort to guard against such violations; and the
resentment towards incidents of sexual harassment was also increasing.
present petition has been brought as a class action by certain social activists
and NGOs with the aim of focusing attention on this societal aberration,
assisting in finding suitable methods for the realisation of the true concept of
'gender equality; and preventing sexual harassment of working women in all
workplaces through the judicial process, to fill the vacuum in existing
Laxmi vs Union of India & Ors on 10 April 2015This case was filed because earlier, in the case of Naeem Khan v. State, 2013,
the issue of acid attack under Section 307 came into the limelight when Laxmi, a
16-year-old girl, was made a victim of an inhumane acid attack by the accused.
Acid attack in terms of motive and emotions is regarded as a 'crime of passion'
which is fueled by revenge or jealousy.
It is presumed to be done as throwing
acid is an easy way of taking revenge on a woman by disfiguring her physical
body for demands like sexual favours, marriage proposals and dowry demands.
Perpetrators of acid attacks by disfiguring and causing extreme physical and
mental suffering to victims fulfil their desires of revenge and jealousy.
accused was held guilty and compensation to the victim was provided under
Section 357(1)(b) for the physical and mental agony she went through. So, the
case of Laxmi was filed to reimburse victims for their damages and help them get
the required medical treatment. The punishment mentioned in the IPC is not
enough for the victim to get justice because the trauma and pain of the survivor
are far greater.
After being a victim of an acid attack herself, the victim Laxmi filed a PIL in
the Supreme Court. In response to that PIL, a number of orders and directives
were passed by the legislative and the Supreme Court of India in the form of
guidelines for humane provisions and redressed of such acid-attack survivors.
The changes in the Indian jurisprudence ranged from various statutes and did not
limit to IPC.
Mukesh & Anr vs. State For Nct Of Delhi & Ors on 5 May 2017 (Nirbhaya Rape
Case)In this case, a girl was gang-raped while returning from a movie theatre with a
friend. She was assaulted and gang-raped by 6 men one of whom was a 17 years old
minor. Her friend, when he tried to protect her, was also assaulted and beaten
up by the convicts. Nirbhaya was gang-raped and they caused damage to her body
of diabolic nature. They pulled out her intestines and mutilated her private
parts. After almost a month of treatment, she died due to cardiac arrest,
multiple organ failure and internal bleeding on December 29th 2012.
The Supreme Court's 3 judge's bench recognised the inhuman act of the accused.
The court after taking into account the nature of their activities, and how they
mutilated her body and destroyed her dignity, awarded the death sentence while
recognising it a 'rarest of the rare case.
Following this case, Indian Criminal law underwent a multi-dimensional change.
The most critical change was the enactment of the Criminal law Amendment, 2013.
Since ancient times, India has been known as the country of the 'Golden Bird' (Sone
Ki Chidiya) due to its abundance of culture & tradition, yoga, rich heritage,
architecture, peace, love and women's honor. From ancient India to modern India
women are treated as Goddesses but due to some evil minds, women are feeling
It is necessary to protect the rights of women in our country; the number of
crimes against women is increasing day by day. Only laws are responsible to
control this crime against women and protect them from evil eyes. To control
this increasing number of crimes every woman should know what laws are given to
protect them and live a respectful life.
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