Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday referred the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill piloted by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar to a Group of Ministers after some ministers expressed doubts on whether the law could be effectively implemented in practice,especially in the context of division of inheritable property to a woman seeking separation from her husband.
The Bill deals with allowing a woman a share in residential property of the husband,including that which is inherited or inheritable before marriage,in case of a divorce.
Among those who found fault with the legislation included Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal,Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari. These ministers are said to have pointed out that division of inherited or inheritable property in rural areas would be much easier said than done,particularly in large and joint families.
Asked about the differences voiced in the Cabinet meeting,Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters: When 30 thinking men and women apply their mind to an issue,they present different opinions. But the different views do not mean differences in the Cabinet. He said that after views are addressed in the Cabinet,the PM always takes a final decision. In this case the matter has been referred to a GoM to look at one or two clauses of the Bill, he said. The GoM would examine the clauses over the next few days and the Bill will come back before the Cabinet,he said.
Even as the Cabinet was discussing the matter,a small group of protesters shouted slogans against the Bill outside the PMs official residence.