Lawyers Love the Unfair Hindu Marriage Act

Refusal to repeal or defang an outdated law by the legal fraternity for reasons best known to itself.
A small cross-section of legal experts have been known to hold that laws need to be made only for those problems which plague large portions of society, and not for problems which are faced by a small or arguably microscopic number of individuals every year in this great land of ours. Feminist lawyers are at the forefront of this tribe of experts when it comes to laws concerning any aspect of gender relations. Many such lawyers have become VIPs in recent years. A related theory is that laws which do more harm than good should be removed from the books. (Conversely, it can be said that laws which benefit only a small portion of litigants need to be repealed or refashioned to benefit large sections of litigants.) This latter appears to be a rational formulation, as opposed to its arbitrary cousin.

Just to take one example of the feminist / feminazi lawyers referred to above, there is one woman who appears to live in a universe where a rather high percentage of the male population are potential criminals. She is expectedly shrill in her demands –invariably refusing to meet her opponents halfway. She has reached a good position in the government hierarchy over the course of a longish career, and this has provided her with a ready audience every time she speaks up.

One of her clients (herself a lawyer who has formerly worked as an intern) referred to her as Additional Solicitor General of India in a recent communiqué. The funny thing here is that an additional solicitor general is a designation for government officers, and is not a constitutional post. You do not often hear people calling somebody Section Officer of India or Undersecretary of India, do you? Could this be an example of self-aggrandisement by proxy? Perhaps not. Lawyers are known to be canny, and this woman would not have wanted her client to embarrass her in print at a time when she herself was trying to humiliate a retired senior legal officer with sarcastic overuse of the word 'lordship' in a case triggered by purported disclosures made by the aforesaid lawyer-client. All the same, it was fun to see the ironical situation of this particular Grand Poobah, and to see her being embarrassed by her own client.

A not entirely unrelated thought here would be to note that an internship undergone by a member of one gender may pave the way for internment of her advisor/senior –if that person were to happen to be a member of the opposite gender– under the evolving legal dispensation in our country(!)

Let us shift the focus back to the point about laws concerning those atrocities which affect a very small number of people each year. When it was demanded that the proposed law against acid attacks be made gender neutral, many prominent feminist lawyers said that acid attacks are made only against women, and that men do not deserve this legal protection. Luckily better sense prevailed and the new law was made equal for both men and women. It appears that there exist people in authority who share this writer's view that gender law is too important to be left to the mercy of feminist lawyers. The law is in any case too important to be run by lawyers to the exclusion of all others, just as the economy is too important to be left to the whims of economists.

As has been mentioned elsewhere in this website, lawyers wield incredible influence in all branches of the polity in our republic, and India has been reduced today to a republic of the lawyers by the lawyers for the lawyers. Lawyers across the nation benefit tremendously from protracted litigation triggered or sustained by unfair laws. The strident and legally authorised interference of lawyers in the creation of laws and their total supremacy in the administration of justice needs to be curbed, this is my humble opinion. Similarly (at the risk of sounding repetitive) it must be said that feminists cannot be presumed by any stretch of the imagination to represent the female gender in all its vastness and variety.

Look at the divorce related litigation which takes place every year in family courts across the country –and not just under the Hindu Marriage Act. It can be clearly observed that the overwhelming majority of litigants try to get out of their marriages in as short a time as legally possible. A small percentage of brainwashed or self-defeating (usually both) litigants go on fighting cases year after year. People who try to end their litigation as soon as possible belong to the category of litigants who have realised that the Hindu Marriage Act is not conducive to a resolution of disputes within a reasonable time frame. Endemic judicial delay in India combines with this law to worsen the suffering. Smart people realise that they should get out while they are still sane.

Absurd or romantic notions of a long fight for justice inspire the ones who go on plodding through our family courts and subsequent levels of our judiciary. In the end, this class of people gets ripped off to put it plainly. The people who give them the aforesaid notions of justice are precisely the people who cheat them.

It must be admitted that there are a few persons in the second category of litigants who are happy with the Act and love to see their paper marriages endure years of enjoyable rounds of courts. It is a side benefit that their paper spouses suffer all this while.

So the Hindu Marriage Act is causing pain to most litigants, while only a small percentage get benefitted by its obdurate provisions. Even this benefit is in the form of masochistic satisfaction and nothing more. At this point let us look back at the hypothesis in the first paragraph of this article (the one within brackets). Does it ring a few bells, litigant?

A number of old statutes have been removed from the books because they were causing misery in society, and were causing harm to the interests of citizens. Is it not time to do the same to the oppressive portions of the Hindu Marriage Act?

There will be lot of resistance from lawyers if an attempt is made to bring about such change. Every extra month spent in litigation makes the litigant more desperate, and lawyers are keenly aware that desperate people are ready to shell out more money than people who are in a normal frame of mind. This brings us to a related topic –that of long waiting periods in the Act.

You may also wish to read Is Quick Divorce Possible for Hindus?: Part 1

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Published by Manish Udar

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Last updated on 16th February 2014
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