An Act to give Hindu married women a right to separate residence and maintenance under certain circumstances. WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for the right to separate residence and maintenance under certain circumstances in the case of Hindu married women; It is hereby enacted as follows:
1. Short title and extent. (1) This Act may be called the Hindu Married Women’s Right to Separate Residence and Maintenance Act, 1946. [(2) It extends to the whole of Pakistan.]
2. Grounds for claiming separate residence and maintenance. Notwithstanding any custom or law to the contrary a Hindu married woman shall be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband on one or more of the following grounds, namely,
(1) if he is suffering from any loathsome disease not contracted from her;
(2) if he is guilty of such cruelty towards her as renders it unsafe or undesirable for her to live with him;
(3) if he is guilty of desertion, that is to say, of abandoning her without her consent or against her wish;
(4) if he marries again ;
(5) if he ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion;
(6) if he keeps a concubine in the house or habitually resides with a concubine;
(7) for any other justifiable cause:
Provided that a Hindu married woman shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by change to another religion or fails without sufficient cause to comply with a decree of a competent Court for the restitution of conjugal rights.
3. Amount of maintenance. When allowing a claim for separate residence and main‐ tenance under section 2, the Court shall determine the amount to be paid by the husband to the wife therefore, and in so doing shall have regard to the social standing of the parties and the extent of the husband’s means.
This Act is expedient to provide for the right to separate residence and maintenance under certain circumstances in the case of Hindu married women. This Act provides for some grounds under which a hindu woman can claim for such rights , in allowing such provisions the court shall consider the social conditions of the husband and wife and also the ability of the husband.
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1886:
This is an Act to provide for the voluntary Registration of certain Births and Deaths, for the establishment of General Registry Offices for keeping Registers of certain Births, Deaths and Marriages.As a result this provides for no binding provision for the death, birth and marriage registration of hindu religion. It is only applicable when anyone just wishes to register such incidents which have just make this law just an ornamental one and it plays no role for the betterment of the hindu women.
Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929:
This Act was enacted to restraint child marriages whereas this stipulates the age of 21 and 18 as the age for marriage for male and female respectively . According to this law any marriage which is solemnized where any of the party to the marriage is under the stipulated age would be child marriage and any person who is of the age of majority for the purpose of this Act, get married with a minor knowingly or any person who directs or arrange such marriage of minor or the guardians or parents of such minor would be punishable for simple imprisonment not exceeding one or with fine of one thousand taka or with both provided that no women shall be punished with imprisonment . This Act further empowers the court to order injunction on its own motion or on application of any aggrieved person for preventing any child marriage but before passing such injunction the court must give prior notice and an opportunity of being heard to the person against whom such injunction is to be ordered. In case of any violation of the order of such injunction the accused person of such allegation shall be punishable for imprisonment for three months of either description or with fine of one thousand taka or with both .Though this is a very important piece of legislation but due our social practice and unawareness people seldom files any application to enforce this law. For enhancing the effectiveness of this law representatives from the local government shall be given special duties as a mandatory one to report any incident of child marriage taking place in their respective locality to the court and provision for punishment in case of failure to perform such duty should be incorporated which would surely do a lot for total effectiveness of the law.
Family Courts Ordinance, 1985:
According to this Act all courts of the Assistant district judge shall be deemed as the family court which shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to try every suit in Bangladesh arising in any of the following matters irrespective of the religious belief to which the party to such suit:
(a) dissolution of marriage;
(b) restitution of conjugal rights;
(e) guardianship and custody of children.
This family courts are empowered to exercise all the powers and follow all the procedures of a civil court that are given under the code of civil procedure,1908 and to some extent the powers of a criminal court also where it is necessary to dispose of the suits brought before it . This court also can hold the trial in camera either on its own motion or on the application of the parties to the suits . In a word this almost an exhaustive law in dealing with the matters within its jurisdiction. But again it is still not enough expedient to give enough relief to hindu women because the laws which this court can enforce are not satisfactory and time worthy for hindu religion. In the matter of this context it can be said that for hindu people this can be compared with an army without weapons. For the effectiveness of the family court for hindu family matters sufficient reforms of the hindu personal law shall have to be ensured first.
The Hindu Widow’s Re-Marriage Act, 1856
The object of this Act is to remove all legal obstacles to the marriage of Hindu Widows. Preamble to this Act provides that it is just to relieve all such Hindus from this legal incapacity of which they complain, and the removal of all legal obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows will tend to the promotion of good morals and to the public welfare by the law as administered in the Civil Courts Hindu widows with certain exceptions are held to be, by reason of their having been once married, incapable of contracting a second valid marriage, and the offspring of such widows by any second marriage are held to be illegitimate and incapable of inheriting property and it is just to relieve all such Hindus from this legal incapacity of which they complain, and the removal of all legal obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows will tend to the promotion of good morals and to the public welfare. This Act provides that whatever be the custom or interpretation of Hindu Law no marriage of any Hindu woman shall be invalid and the issue of such marriage shall be illegitimate by reason of such woman being married previously or betrothed to a person who is dead .As a consequence of such re-marriage the woman is ceased to have any right to her deceased husbands property.This is certainly a black spot for this law because unlike the muslim women Hindu womens don’t have any right to denmohor which shall never be ceased away . For this reason there should be a provision for Hindu women to get some interest from her deceased husband as absolute which would still remain even if she re-marries.This Act also go further to say that after her getting married again the woman can’t retain the guardianship of the children of her deceased husband which is certainly a cruel settlement on the part of both the mother and the children because it is not a dissabilty of the woman that her husband died nor she lacks the motherly affection to her child,the mother must have right of the guardianship and custody of the person of her child even after her re-marriage if the children wishes so.In determining the part of consent in such marriage the Act provides, in case of aminor widow whose marriage was not consummated can’t re-marry without the consent of her guardians who is empowered by law to give such marriage while in contravention of this rule the re-marriage can be rendered void .
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980
The system of giving and taking dowry is a social disease , the worst sufferer for which are the women of the country. This Act declares all forms of giving and taking dowry to be void and punishable. According to this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly-
(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
(b) by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person; at the time of marriage or at any time before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mehr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies .If any person gives or takes or abets the giving or taking dowry and if any person demands directly or indirectly dowry to the parents of the bride or bridegroom shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five years and not below one year or with fine or with both. Any agreement for taking or giving dowry is also declared void.
1For Statement of Objects and Reasons, see Gazette of India, 1946, Pt. V, p. 94; and for Report of Select Committee, see ibid.,
This Act has been applied to Baluchistan, see Notification No. 336/B.P.G., dated the 26th November, 1946, Gazette of India,
1946, Pt. I, p. 1675.
It has been extended to the Leased Areas of Baluchistan by the Leased Areas (Laws) Order, 1950 (G.G.O. 3 of 1950).
Subs. by the Central Laws (Statute Reform) Ordinance, 1960 (21 of 1960), s. 3 and 2nd Sch. (with ef ect from the 14th
October, 1955), for the original sub‑section (2), as amended by A. O., 1949.