‘Alimony laws in India are biased’ | Deccan Herald

Clipped from: https://www.deccanherald.com/metrolife/metrolife-your-bond-with-bengaluru/alimony-laws-in-india-are-biased-1052516.html

Men are also entitled to maintenance but that’s granted to them in very few cases, say experts

One of the most prominent laws under matrimonial and divorce laws in India is the law regarding the right to receive and give alimony. Today, it still comes as a surprise when men receive alimony because of how rarely it happens, says Hariprasad S, volunteer, Save Indian Family Foundation. It was International Men’s Day on November 19.

Generally, alimony refers to an allowance that the court orders the husband to pay the wife, for her sustenance. “Very few laws in the country provide any support for men in this matter,” says Siji Malayil, advocate.

Due to India’s religious diversity, each religious group functions in accordance with its own personal law, based on religious scriptures, customs, and traditions. 

As the law on alimony also derives from such personal laws, the grounds on which one can claim alimony differ from community to community.

“The most prominent law under which men can claim alimony or maintenance is the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Under this act, a Hindu husband can claim alimony from his wife if he is not capable of providing for himself. There are also other factors that come into play here,” explains Siji. 

Another act that allows men in India to appeal for alimony is the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936, says K M Sai Apabharana, advocate. “This act allows both Parsi men and women to claim alimony if they meet the requirements,” she adds. 

She believes it’s time for other laws like the Special Marriage Act of 1954 in the country to also make provisions for all genders to be able to claim alimony equally.

“Many of these laws were made ages ago. For example, the Indian Christian Marriage Act was moulded in 1872 by the British, based on their laws. Back then, women did not have the right to own property so it did not make sense for them to pay maintenance. But we’ve come a long way since then. While the original law has been modified in the UK, it’s time for India to follow suit,” she says. 

Despite the Constitution of India considering men and women as equal entities, there still exist some laws in the country that remain partial to a particular gender and are misused often, says Hariprasad.

“All genders deserve equal rights. For example, if a man meets with an accident and he is no longer able to work, there are very few supporting systems that can help him out in such a situation. He can not even claim for a maintenance amount from his ex-wife to meet his sustenance needs,” he says. 

Praveen (name changed) is hearing-impaired and suffers from health conditions that hinder him from working regularly. “Despite my health problems I did not receive any form of support when I was falsely accused and divorced by my partner. No organisation or lawyer was able to support me. There exist many biases in the Indian law system,” he tells Metrolife. 

Apabharana states that while several government-run centres exist to provide support to women, not much has been done on the front for men.

“There exist only a few informal groups that offer support to men and try to spread awareness on this issue. This needs to change,” she adds.

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