The Law Commission of India (LCI) has recently recommended to GOI to amend The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA) to make Fathers-in-Law (FIL) responsible to maintain Hindu housewives when their husband is unable to maintain them. This rule will be applicable to the Karta (head) of any Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) too.
What the 252nd report of LCI says is that the Hindu husband becomes responsible for maintaining his wife for her life the moment they get married. So when the husband is not able to maintain his wife, it becomes the responsibility of the FIL or the Karta of the HUF to maintain the destitute wife if the estate of the HUF is not divided. However, if the husband’s share in the HUF estate is given to him then the FIL is not responsible.
The fact that the husband becomes responsible for maintaining his wife comes from the seven oaths (Saptapadi) he takes while taking saat phera during their marriage.
However, a Hindu wife, too, takes several oaths during their marriage but when she breaks any of those, she is never punished.
Let’s take a look at her oaths –
Phera 1 – To nourish each other
Bride’s vow – I will honour my husband. I take upon myself the responsibilities of the house and children.
We have never seen any Hindu wife being punished for not honoring the husband or not taking care of children. In fact, the custody of the child by default goes to the mother in most cases unless she is not interested. LCI or any of our courts never felt any need to create any new law based on cruelty by mother.
Phera 2 – To grow together in strength
Bride’s vow- I will stand side by side with my husband in protecting our family and home.
What if when she abused her in-laws or the husband? Why is that no authority ever decided to have a special law for breaching this vow by a wife?
Phera 3 – To preserve couple’s wealth
Bride’s vow- I will be faithful to my husband and will support him
Well, we have never found any Hindu bride ever punished for swindling couple’s fund for maintenance of her family members. No one ever felt the need to amend any law even though there were many such complaints already filled by many husbands before different courts.
Phera 4 – To share their joys and sorrows
Bride’s vow- I will do my best to please my husband.
It is the housewives who are demanding household work to be shared equally by the husband. They are also demanding household work, looking after in-laws is oppression. No court or LCI ever felt the need to amend any law to ensure this vow is not breached.
Phera 5 – To care for children and parents
Bride’s vow- I will trust and honour you. I will be with you always.
Well, it is the wives who raise a maximum complaint of the husband being unfaithful without honoring him. Most of the housewives demand separate household today because they don’t want to take care of their in-laws. Ironically we see courts not honoring this vow and ordering the husband to find a separate household based on her demand.
Also when the wives who dessert their husband and elope with their boyfriend or simply decide to live with her parents instead of the husband no court ever feels the need to amend any law.
Phera 6 – To be together forever
Bride’s vow – I will always be with you in all your endeavors.
Ironically the adulterous wives who break this vow are never punished. In fact, Indian adultery law protects adulterous women and in-spite of many courts observing that adultery law is biased against men, LCI never felt the need to recommend any amendment. Neither did any govt feel the need to introduce any law.
Phera 7 – To remain friends, forever
Bride’s vow – I am delighted to be your wife. May we be together forever
Well, so any deserting wife clearly breaks this vow. But never punished. Even if the husband gets a divorce on the ground of desertion he needs to pay maintenance to a nonexisting wife.
So we see that none of the courts, LCI or GOI ever felt the sacredness of marriage when women break their marriage vows. It is felt only to punish the husbands or men.
Coming back to other law amendments, in Feb 2013 Govt. Of India has passed an amendment to Hindu Succession Act, 1956 where the daughters were given an equal share in their fathers’ property. GOI said during that time –
“This bill further makes provision to make the legal heir of a woman in case of her death (and her husband and children being absent) in the following manner –
(i) firstly, upon the mother and the father of the female;
(ii) secondly, upon the heirs of the father of the female;
(iii) thirdly, upon the heirs of the mother of the female; and
(iv) lastly, upon the heirs of the husband of the female.”.
So, we see that even though in-laws are responsible for maintaining a wife, in case such a housewife dies, her share of property goes to her parent’s heirs and NOT to any of her in-laws who have been maintaining her for throughout her married life.
If we look at both these amendments together we will see that GOI is making marriage equivalent to extreme cruelty for any Hindu male and his family. While the women and families that have NO contribution to the property (or joint estate), is given a share, the legitimate heirs are denied their hard earned money.
So, it becomes clear that under the different pretext and in the name of saving Hindu culture, a sustained effort is being carried out to destroy the Hindu family system and make it a pure business for women and their families.