IrBM – The Manufactured ‘Need’
In Bengali, there is a saying, “খেতে পেলে শুতে চায়”. It means when you give some benefits or help people, these become their entitlement and then a right. This is what is happening with young Indian women nowadays.
If you are wondering what went behind the August 2018 Law Commission recommendations on ‘reforms’ of Indian family laws that proposed bringing back Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage or IrBM that MRAs have forced the government to shelve earlier, the minds of some recently graduated female advocates worked behind these so-called ‘research’.
In no other industry will you find recently graduated students are even considered as knowledgeable enough to recommend anything to that industry, but here we see Law Commission of India (LCI) has based its recommendations of changing family lives of every Indian, on some immature kids who are now considered as ‘lawyers’.
The ‘Consultants’ Behind The New Mayhem
Before we understand the recommendations on IrBM, let’s take a look at this team of Law Commission ‘researchers’ and ‘consultants’. They were Dr. Saumya Saxena, Ms. Preeti Badola, Ms. Oshin Belove, Ms. Anumeha Mishra and a loner male, Mr. Setu Gupta.
From the profile of these ‘researchers’, we know that Dr. Saumya has done her PhD in Legal History in 2016 and her research interests included personal law, gender, religion etc. She was also one of the consultants of Justice Verma Commission that has proposed amendments to our criminal laws in 2013 (imagine a student was a consultant, understand why we have such botched-up laws?).
Advct. Preeti Badola is an advocate in Delhi and a consultant with Law Commission of India. She has about 2 years of experience and works in the area of divorce. She was also a ‘consultant’ of recently released Law Commission consultation paper on Sedition.
Ms. Oshin Belove has done her LLM on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law from Indian Law Institute in 2017 and is a lawyer for the NGO Delhi Citizen forum. She is also a legal ‘consultant’ of LCI.
Ms. Anumeha Mishra is Asstt. Professor, Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. She completed her LLB from Dr. Ram Monohar Lohiya National Law University in 2012 and then did her LLM on Constitutional Law in 2014 from University of Lucknow. She was a consultant of Law Commission of India until Jul 2017.
Last but not the least Mr. Setu Gupta is Asstt. Professor of Amity Law School, Noida. He completed his BA, LLB from RML National Law University, Lucknow in 2012 and then did his LLM from Indian Law Institute in 2017. He served the Law Commission of India between Nov 2017 to Apr 2018.
So, we see that all the so-called ‘legal consultants’ of The Law Commission of India are pretty young recent graduates and with hardly any experience and knowledge, but they became consultants of Law Commission and suggested ‘reforms’ of family laws.
Question is when in no other industry or working area such recent graduates are even considered as knowledgeable enough and need to undergo training and mentoring, what made law commission take their help to amend Indian personal laws? Does it give us any good feeling about how our laws are made? In this context, the shady behavior of the Law Commission itself raises a question about the intention behind its existence.
The ‘Disprivileged’ Brats
Now let’s see the extent of their research and the quality of the same and try to understand the implications of these changes in the Indian family system. The report starts with a promise that the commission wants to ‘best protect and preserve the plurality’ of the country. This report also starts by saying various aspects of prevailing personal laws ‘disprivilege women’. And also states that the commission believes that ‘discrimination’ and not ‘difference’ is the root of this inequality.
So, according to initial presumptions of the commission, we understand that the commission (or the immature minds behind the report) already presumed women as discriminated against (four women in a five-person panel probably shows the discrimination) without any research but based on their personal beliefs. So, the ‘plurality’ they wanted to maintain was literally dividing the population further in the name of some imaginary discrimination. We will now see how.
To protect the so-called plurality, the commission felt the best way forward was to preserve the ‘diversity of personal laws.’ So, those who were promoting the Uniform Civil Code so far should understand that UCC is also a botched-up concept that does not mean ‘uniform’ by any means. And lawyers are best to confuse people with these terms.
In terms of ‘codification of personal laws,’ this report in section 1.4 states any such codification can’t lead to ‘crystallisation of prejudices and stereotypes’. And also promises to bring equality ‘within communities’ rather than across communities. So, this team that was overwhelmingly women wanted to bring equality of women and men within communities.
An Invalid Research
When you may be dreaming about seeing some steps towards ‘equality’, the report in section 1.7 stated “Right to equality, on the other hand, can also not be treated like an absolute right”. Because they say in India there is ‘insurmountable economic inequalities’. However, these young ‘researchers’ didn’t present any relevant data in-order-to show that prevailing ‘insurmountable inequality’. This shows the pathetic standard of ‘research’ and proves that these suggestions were made without any basis. So, any suggestion made by these recent graduates should not be in the first place taken seriously. When the basis of the whole study falls apart all recommendations made by the immature ‘researchers’ should not be considered as a valid research in the first place.
So, we understand that the report seeks to bring ‘equity’ in the society and creates a justification as to why ‘unequals can’t be treated equally’. Question is when it was not established who was the ‘unequals’, how did these ‘experts’ consider ‘women’ as ‘disprivileged’? This situation raises a question not only about their education but also shows the pathetic standard of legal professionals and mainly women professionals in the country. The existence and expertise of Law Commission also come under suspicion for publishing such immature work.
I remember the reason ‘Hindu Code Bill’ was severely debated because it was prepared ‘NOT’ by ‘elected’ members but by ‘selected’ members and hence it was not representative of the population. Then how can such recommendations of Law Commission and it’s student researchers’ who are also ‘selected’ individuals, be considered for recommending anything?
Serious Quality Issues
In paragraph 1.13 of the report, the Law Commission did clarify about these ‘initiatives’ as it stated, “reform of family law is driven by civil society organizations, educational institutions and the vulnerable sections of the society itself, rather than by legislative mandate”. But the reason as to why women are considered as ‘vulnerable’ section is not clarified in the report.
Para 1.18 gives an example from a Kerala Church where a priest has misused his powers and then subsequent reaction to ban all confessions. The report says such knee-jerk reactions can’t be the basis of any law change. But the same hypocrites (read commission) worked for Criminal Law Amendment in 2013 after the knee-jerk reaction following Nirbhaya incident. The immaturity of the report comes out when in the conclusion of Kerala church case, the report tries to justify frivolous complaints in family laws. Such a poor analogy also shows the lack of bare minimum standard of the commission that wants to change a country’s law. Raises serious questions about our legal education and entities.
Section 1.20 of the report also supports plurality of the laws and states that it is necessary to weed out ‘inequality’ (that is never proven). So, those of you who wanted to bring comprehensive legislation in the family laws will be disheartened as that is not going to happen because these student ‘researchers’ thought otherwise. So, even though the root of all perceived problems is not proven, India will continue to have more and more laws that will keep confusing general people, create more unrest in the society and above all keep creating new earning potential for these young lawyers.
Report Fools You on International Conventions
The report in its para 1.36 mentions international conventions and refers article 16 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and states that –
- Men and Women are entitled to ‘equal rights’ as to marriage, during the marriage and at its dissolution. And
- The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and state.
Since India is a signatory to this treaty, the report states Article 51[C] and states, “the State shall endeavor to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized people with one another.”
Please note, this never says that India will always follow international treaty obligations. In any international treaty, there are countries that can ignore certain agreements based on their social needs and there are many examples of that, too. It is also pertinent to note that Article 51 [C] comes under the Directive Principles of State Policy and hence is not enforceable. However, in this present Law Commission report a case is being created in this regard.
There is one more important point on International Treaties. If the state already has pertaining laws in the matter, domestic laws will prevail over international laws. In terms of ensuring ‘equity’ of women in marriages and maintenance on divorce, India already has multiple laws that safeguard the interests of women. Then why the need for a new law IrBM that incentivize divorce? The report tries to create a false urgency on complying to the International Legislation.
Dishonesty Over Domestic Violence
In section 2.1, it says ‘marriage is frequently theorized as the foundation of a family and family foundation of society’. It says, ‘glorification of marriage’ tries to justify the state’s non-interference in personal space but says that the state can’t overlook violence in personal space. So, in one hand when the international treaty wants to protect the family system, the report mocks marriages by saying ‘glorification of marriage’. Not sure what these ‘brilliant’ scholars wanted to save family by mocking marriage.
If the commission was true to this belief of eliminating violence in domestic sphere, then why is so far the domestic violence law was not made gender neutral when so many men face domestic violence from their wives. We have a specific study in that regard as well. It shows clear hypocrisy of the commission and brings out evil intentions of the novice researchers. It shows that the Commission is not at all honest about their reforms or suggestions.
Misuse of IPC 498a to Justify IrBM
Law Commission, that was so far blind over the misuse of IPC 498a, has suddenly, in this report spoke about the overwhelming misuse of IPC 498a to expedite divorce proceedings. Para 2.32 purposefully show why IrBM is needed. Commission’s evil intentions come to the fore when we see the report does not talk about stopping law abuse but 498a misuse is purposefully used by the commission (rather these women) to show the need of Marital Rape law and IrBM. So, in a way, these crooked minds wanted to create a situation of ‘more laws’ and more misuse, completely paralyzing the legal system. Any sane person will understand that no matter whether women get justice now, a paralyzed system will ensure steady earning opportunity for new lawyers, who otherwise may be out of their jobs.
To justify IrBM, this report shows how long drawn legal battles harm both the parties and hence try to justify easy divorce with a rider of ensuring financial security to women. Para 2.38 states, IrBM Act as tabled in 2013 was criticized because it left ‘women in a particularly vulnerable position’– which is an absolute lie. The provisions there included giving women 50% of husband’s inherited and inheritable property and that by no means was ‘leaving women in vulnerable position’. That was the highly vulnerable position for husbands instead. This kind of random comments in its report, however, shows the pathetic standard of Law Commission itself. It shows that this commission may be a political agency in the disguise of a legal entity.
Community Property With No Contribution
In this new version of IrBM, these students suggested ‘community property’ that would include ALL property acquired after marriage by both the parties and this will be treated as a unit. A demand that TMF’s research has shown to the government earlier. (details here).
Law Commission report states that women contribute to most of the household work, they sacrifice their career to take care of children and these contributions are not evaluated in monetary terms. This is the reason the report suggested ‘equal’ division of all property ‘acquired after marriage by the couple’ to give to the woman on divorce.
The problem with such generic assumption that all women contribute equally to household work or sacrifice their career for the family is an oversimplification or exaggeration of women’s contribution that we might have seen in our mothers but not anymore. The young women who drafted this are definitely not going to sacrifice their career for their family. Today’s working women don’t sacrifice anything for their family, many of them choose not to become a mother or force their husbands for all entitlements. Many women who do leave their jobs for marriage (say for relocation or childbearing) also employ multiple maids at home to take care of children and household work and the husband pays for these amenities. Many women work against the husband, makes his life hell by continuing domestic violence and hence work negatively to the ‘family unit’. Anything that husband earns in those situations should not belong to the woman at all, rather those women should be held responsible to pay the husband an additional amount for the cruelty.
The Report Encourages Parasites
Law Commission, however, oversimplified women’s contributions to their family and equated high contributors to the negative contributors (parasites). When this comes from a bunch of young educated women lawyers, we understand how devalued the moral system of modern educated women have been. Free entitlement has become a right and that seems to be a never-ending phenomenon. That is why they never recommended evaluation of a woman’s contribution in a family (either positive or negative) and then decide their appropriate alimony amount. There are no quality parameters defined to evaluate such contributions. Why should any woman contribute to her family at all?
The August 2018 Law Commission report shows educated Indian women have become much bigger parasites today. They get educated but do not contribute to the economy and many would simply leave their job to enjoy such free entitlements. Those who work, they also don’t contribute to their family equally as it is still a husband’s responsibility to maintain their wives. On one hand, when such modern educated empowered women talk about the evils of patriarchy, they ask for more patriarchal benefits. That is why the Bengali proverb is so apt here. “খেতে পেলে শুতে চায়” – if you give them food, they want to sleep (on your head).