Gender inequality in Indian culture is not fresh. Since ancient times, women
have been regarded as the weaker sex. Crimes against women are still popular
today and fail to stop. In this context, the government has introduced a great
deal of legislative change to ensure equality between men and women.
In civil matters related to marriage, ancestry, adoption, etc., gender disparity
is distinctly visible. However, the awareness that women should have the same
human rights as men is rising in society. This has contributed to the
government's determination to enact legislation in this regard. Any of these
rules concern modifications to Hindu personal laws.
Manusmriti can be traced back to the main thrust of Hindu personal laws.
Manusmriti put a great deal of prohibitions on women and so the gender imbalance
in his text was clear. The legal system was therefore important to reform the
situation and increase women's status.
The government has passed different laws that concentrate on giving and
promoting women in historically masculine-dominated matters. The Hindu Marriage
Act (1955) is among such legislation. A Hindu marriage is considered a sacrament
by this statute. The rules of this Act have been changed in several ways to make
them more sensitive to women. An overview of these laws reveals that more
benefits to women have been granted than in conventional marriage issues. There
have since been many judicial pronouncements to end conventional women's bias.
Conditions of Marriage: Section 5
In Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the requirements governing the
validity in the eyes of law of the Hindu marriage shall be defined. Most of
these requirements are important to discourage cultural rituals that adversely
affect Hindu women's lives. When one of these circumstances is not satisfied,
marriage is not legitimate, and thus invalid under the constitution.
Consequently, in the case of an illegitimate marriage, women are no longer bound
to their marital obligations.
The abolition of polygamy in compliance with Section 5 is a significant gain for
Hindu women (i). Before this portion was codified, the Hindu men had several
weddings, including birth of a son, modesty, etc, for many reasons. This
contributed to women's suffering, since a man who had more than one wife was
considered noble. All these rituals have made women's lives miserable so she is
unable to contest the actions of her husband. But women will also file a lawsuit
with section 5(i) against their husband's second marriage.
There was also an issue with Hindu weddings, in which young girls under the age
of 18 were married. Children's marriage is a social phenomenon since they are
married at a young age because they are not mature enough to meet marital
requirements. Young girls are thus forced to dedicate themselves to adulthood.
The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 sets a minimum limit, in this respect, until
marriage is impossible. Section 5(iii) also sets the age limit for boys to 21
years and girls to 18 years. Therefore, if a breach occurs, a simple 15-day jail
term or Rs 1000/- fine or any of them is imposed. In addition, the girl married
before 18 years of age will refuse marriage.
It is also necessary to take into account circumstances where girls are married.
The union can be considered null and void in such cases when no agreement was
present. This ensures that if women choose, they will be able to terminate
marriage. Women are thus entitled to choose their husband and should not be
compelled to marry anyone against their will in the case of Shakti Vahini v.
 this was also decided. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to life
and freedom also requires the right to pick one. It is also an intrinsic part of
Article 21 and cannot be infringed upon.
Divorce: Section 13
In the beginning, on the basis of the principle of fault/guilt, divorce was
pursued according to the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act. Consequently, a couple can
only seek divorce if a matrimonial offence has been committed by the other
party. Section 13(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 gives nine explanations for
divorce in this context.
Especially Beneficial To Women Are Those Reasons For Divorce:
- Adultery :
It is an act of establishing a consensual sexual relationship with a
different sex than the partner during married life. It was initially
appropriate for a person to live in adultery for a permanent duration to be
a basis for divorce. However, also a single case of adultery is still
necessary to obtain divorce with the amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act
1955. Therefore, it is better for women to terminate marriage on that basis
because they had no redress for the affairs of their husbands prior to this
- Cruelty :
It depends on each case's circumstances. The act now acknowledges both
emotional and physical cruelty. Comportement that affects the lives of
partners is being cruelly manifested. Cruelty was described as the state of
mind in "Pravin Mehta v. Inderjeet Metha." That is a measure for the sake
of women, since they now have the freedom to pursue divorce if their
husbands are cruelty to them. For different causes, women are believed to
have faced abuse. Thus, women have legal support to challenge the same thing
under this amendment.
It has been noted that the wives were already bound to marry and that the
husbands abandoned their wives after marry. Therefore, under subsection
13(1)(i) (b), the husband will apply for divorce and become excluded from
his marital duties when he leaves the wife for a continuous period of 2
There is a trend among Hindu men to convert to other religions such as Islam
to enter into polygamy. Thus, in case of convert to a new faith, Section
13(1)(ii) grants the freedom to obtain divorce. Hence, if her husband
changes his faith for whatever reason, the wife will get rid of her marital
Presumption of Death:
According to Article 13(1)(vii), if a person has not been heard to be alive for
at least seven years a person is allegedly deceased. In the absence of this
clause, women were especially concerned about this situation, for their position
as a wife was bound to perform, even though their husband had been unaware for
years. Under that clause, it was possible for women, without marriage
commitments, to pursue divorce and resume their lives.
Either a husband or a woman can invoke the reasons stated in Section 13(1) and
can therefore be considered to be sex neutral. Section 13(2) therefore provides
some conditions for seeking divorce only for women. The basis is:
- The wife can file for divorce if her husband had been in a valid
marriage since the period before the commencement of the Hindu Marriage
Act, 1955. This is no longer useful because of practical impossibility
- If the husband is convicted for rape, sodomy or bestiality, after the
marriage, the wife can seek divorce
- If cohabitation between the partner has not resumed between the parties
after one year of the issuance of maintenance order (under Section 125
Cr.P.C.) or decree under Section 18, Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, 1956,
the wife can sue for divorce under Section 13(2)(iii)
- In case, a women had been married off before attaining the age of 15
years and she had repudiated the marriage before attaining 18 years of age,
she can seek divorce under Section 13(2)(iv). This provision was added by
the 1976 amendment, to enable those women who had been married off before
15 years of age, to get rid of their obligations under the marriage
The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 (amendment) Bill, 2010 dubbed "the irretrievable
break-up of marriage," found a second explanation why divorce could be sought.
This is a situation in which all sides cannot live in harmony because of
conflicts of view or other problems. As a consequence, they don't want to
maintain their marital ties. This Bill has not, however, been implemented, and
so no constitutional clause considers "irretrievable divorce breakdowns."
However, in the recent case of Srinivas Kumar v. R.Shametha
, On the
basis of irrevocable marital dissolution, the Supreme Court granted the divorce.
This may also be a justification for women to pursue divorce if they believe
like their marriage has been irrevocable.
Their marriage must end as this was recognised by the Supreme Court as a basis
of divorce. By amending the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the Supreme Court has
also suggested the irrevocable dissolution of marriage as an excuse for divorce
in Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli.
The reality that in the normal course of litigation divorce takes years is
another issue that was commonly noticed. Therefore, to promote the case, the
Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 now allows divorce with mutual consent. Under the
Marriage Law (Amendment) Act, 1976, Section 13-B was added for this reason. In a
brief amount of time, it was better to pursue divorce.
Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act 1955 states that if they have lived
separately for one year or more, and do not want to pursue their marriage ties,
a couple will seek divorce. In that case, the Court grants divorce after the
complaint has been resolved by re-examen over a fair duration of about 6-18
The way to have a divorce by mutual consent is very easy. This is because it
avoids the procedure that is standard practise on some grounds of divorce, to
make claims against one another. This made the law simpler for citizens, in
particular women who were faced with different difficulties for divorce.
- Restitution of Conjugal Rights 
Women in various problems arising out of their marriage partnerships are
provided with various support and remedies. In Section 9 of the Hindu
Marriage Act of 1955 the restitution of marital rights is one of these.
Accordingly, the wife may request that the court take action in this regard
if the husband has abandoned his wife without fair cause for it, she is
deemed to be in contravention of conjugal rights.
The court in the case of Sushila Bai v. Prem Narayan, held that
her husband's behaviour of desertion and reaction to a wife was a withdrawal
from his wife's community. The wife's appeal for restoration of married
rights was thereby permitted.
Women then have a solution to be left to their husbands to request an order
from the Court to co-habit their husbands.
The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 lays down women's right to their husbands'
support. Article 24 of the Act stipulates the pending lite shall be temporary
retained or maintained. This is necessary during the divorce proceedings.
Accordingly, in the absence of an independent source of revenue, women may
demand maintenance to cover the required costs. It could also be necessary to
assert the costs of the legal cases.
The provision in Indian society is extremely helpful since many women rely on
husband's income. Therefore, they are unable to support themselves during
divorce proceedings, i.e. they face problems meeting day-to-day expenses and the
costs of proceedings.
Likewise, after divorce is given, permanent support is provided for women to
live a decent life after marriage is stopped. Section 25 of the 1955 Hindu
Marriage Act includes the preservation and protection for a gross sum or a
monthly or periodic sum. This will occur throughout the spouse's life or until
the beneficiary stays unmarried.
Thus, Article 25 of the Act guaranteed that women were free, even after divorce,
to receive welfare and maintenance, to live a dignified life. The judiciary has
already acknowledged this and sorted out it.
"In the case of Mangat Mal v. Punni Devi
, it was held that
maintenance includes food and clothing and the like. It also encompasses the
basic need of shelter". "In another landmark judgment, Bhuwan Mohan Singh v.
, the Supreme Court held that maintenance of a wife does not mean
mere animal existence, rather it signifies a similar life as she had, when she
lived with her husband". It is also the husband's job to provide her with a
In keeping with the Hindu traditions, marriage should not be disbanded or
contested as a sacrament. In comparison, women's conventional position was
biassed and women were assumed men's.
Since the passage of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, however, there have been a
number of provisions to grant women civil rights. By specifying the
pre-conditions for a legal marriage the status of women was pursued. Therefore
the attempt was made to eradicate polygamy, child marriage etc.
The advent of divorce was another big reform, making it easier to dissolve
marriage. This is of benefit to women since they are no longer trapped by an
unwanted marriage and can take lawful action in order to put a stop to it.
Several reforms have since been made to make it possible to pursue divorce in
accordance with the Law, in the form of revisions.
Women are entitled to co-existence with the husband, care and sustenance
protection, under the marriage as well. Thus the traditional subjugated status
of women has been assured that they no longer remain in society. Women will
approach the courts to restore them in case of breach of their marital rights.
All of this suggests that continuous attempts are being made to increasing
women's status in society and ending their inequalities. Oversight of the
conservative approach towards women's marriage has been subject to the legal
interventions over the years. Many of these laws have also had a positive effect
on women's lives in Indian society.
- Section 18(a)
- (2018) 7 SCC 192
- Article 13(1)(i)
- Article 13(1)(ia)
- Appeal (civil) 3930 of 2002
- Section 13(2)(i)
- Section 13(2)(ii)
- Marriage Laws Amendment Act, 1976
- Appeal (Civil), 4696 of 2013
- (2006) 4 S.C.C. 558
- Section 9
- AIR 1986 MP 225
- (1995) 6 SCC 88
- Criminal Appeal No.1331 OF 2014