Report No. 59
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Special Marriage Act, 1954
The present inquiry-its genesis and scope
1.1. On the 17th of January, 1974, the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs addressed a communication) to the Chairman of the Commission suggesting that the Commission may examine the question about revising the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act on a 'priority basis1 and forward to the Union Government a Report at an early date. Along with this letter, the Minister forwarded to the Commission a draft Bill2 which had been prepared by his Ministry after considering various suggestions received from some Members of Parliament and the general public. The Minister requested that the Commission might examine the question as to whether it would be reasonable and desirable to liberalise the divorce provisions so as to reduce the period of waiting for divorce after a decree of judicial separation or restitution of conjugal rights and to eliminate the period of restriction for remarriage after divorce.
It was further stated in this letter that the Draft Bill proposed "to permit a right of divorce only to the wife" if she had obtained an order for maintenance under section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and desired that the Commission may consider whether, in such a case, a similar right should be conferred on the husband. The suggestions thus made by the Minister in his communication for examination of the two Acts constitute the genesis of the present inquiry.
1.2. Since the Commission was thus entering upon an inquiry in regard to the revision of the relevant provisions of the two Acts, it examined not only the draft Bill forwarded to it, but considered the other provisions of the Acts not covered by the draft Bill. The present inquiry is thus not confined to the amendments proposed in the draft Bill, but examines the problem in relation to all the provisions of the two Acts. That is the extent of the present inquiry. In the course of the Report, the provisions made in the draft Bill will, for the sake of brevity, be described as "proposals".
1. Appendix 1.
2. Appendix 2.