Thursday, 8 March 2012

International women's day: Landmark judgments in favour of women - part two

Equal property rights

The apex court provided equal property rights to women. Hindu woman or girl now gets 
equal property rights along with other male relatives. Justices RM Lodha and Jagdish 
Singh Khehar maintained that under the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, daughters 
are entitled to equal inheritance rights along with other male siblings.

Women in armed forces

The Delhi High Court directed the Indian Air Force to allow its women officers to be 
eligible for the Permanent Commission status. Earlier, women officers are restricted to 
Short Service Commission status, which means they will retire after 14 years of service. 
Thanks to the judgment, they can serve till they turn 60.

Justices SK Kaul and MC Garg held “If male officers can be granted PC status while 
performing similar tasks there is no reason why capable women officers cannot be granted 
the same. It is not a charity being sought by women officers but enforcement of their own 
constitutional rights.”

Judgment on talaq

The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has held that a talaq (divorce), even if it is 
oral, should be proved before court, if wife contests it by leading evidence. The court 
maintained that as per the Holy Quran, there should be a reasonable cause, and it should 
be preceded by an attempt to reconciliation. The divorce will become effective only after 
the reconciliation efforts fail.

Live-in relationship

India is a conservation nation where relation outside the institution of marriage is 
frowned upon. Live-in relationship is a grey area, a concept foreign to the Indian 
culture. But with live-in relationships growing of late, the Supreme Court has sought to 
demarcate the difference between marriage and live-in relationship. Notwithstanding its 
earlier views, the SC in D Veluswamy Vs D Patchiamal case declared live-in relationship 
as “relationship in the nature of marriage”.

Taking a different view of the “live-in” relationship insofar as maintenance is 
concerned, the SC maintained that a woman in such a relationship cannot claim maintenance 
if her man abandons her. The court held that “live-in” relationship does not qualify to 
be a “relationship in the nature of marriage” for payment of maintenance.

Paternity tests

Paternity test is a taboo, and something, which we as Indians do not encourage. A child 
should not be referred to paternity tests at will. “Courts should take extreme caution 
while referring a child to paternity test”, the apex court felt. Justice Aftab Alam and 
Justice RM Lodha maintained that paternity test is extremely delicate and sensitive 
aspect. “Sometimes the result of such a scientific test may bastardise an innocent child 
even though his mother and her spouse were living together during the time of conception”.

Second wife entitled to maintenance

Even in the case of an illegal second marriage, a woman is entitled to maintenance if the 
husband deserts her. Justices DM Dharmadhikari and HK Sema observed that a bigamous 
marriage may be declared illegal but it cannot be said to be immoral to deny even the 
right of alimony or maintenance to a financially weak and economically dependant spouse.

Woman can retain maiden name

A woman can retain her maiden name after marriage, according to a judgment of Bombay High 
Court. It amended a rule that compels a woman to file any marriage-related proceedings 
only in her husband’s surname. A woman is free whether to take her husband’s name after 

Reproductive choices

A woman has the right whether or not to opt for a child. She can make reproductive 
choices and enjoys the right to participate in sexual activity or to use contraceptives.

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