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FUTURE OF THE FAMILY

In boy v/s girl, the boy loses

 

Complications in family law need to be ironed out
K. SUNIL, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY | Issue Dated: May 13, 2007
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In boy v/s girl, the boy loses Monica and Balkishan had an intensely intimate affair but feared resistance from Monica’s family. Love did not know any law and the marriage was performed at Balkishan’s factory with a pandit conducting the rituals as per Hindu vedic rites ending with saptapadi, the Seven Steps, considered the solemnising of the marriage. But fate would decry otherwise. Monica was keen on going to Europe for a job. She wanted a “marriage certificate” as her husband wanted to join her. The child born out of this wedlock could travel with Monica, because in European countries the mother’s name in the certificate is valid. However, Monica insisted that the father’s name should be also written in various social security forms and Balkishan was duly declared as the father.

The couple also decided to have a matrimonial home at India and Monica kept sending money for the purchase of a house. She did not know Balkishan had married another girl in the meantime and continued to receive money from Monica. He did not join her in Europe and continued to live in India. But, he kept expressing his love for Monica through emails, letters, audiotapes and CDs. Monica’s sisters suspected that Balkishan had married another girl and smelt a rat when they called on their brother-in-law in India. Monica wanted to confirm it and sent a friend to check up. The friend, also from a European country, “confirmed the worst” and told Monica that the money she was remitting was “utilised” for the “bigamy”.

Monica wants a divorce. The boy says he had not married Monica, so a divorce petition can’t be entertained. How should the marriage be proved? Here lies the nicest of the legal niceties. In Hindu law, registration of marriage is not compulsory. If there is photographic evidence of the marriage being performed with saptapadi and rites and rituals, the onus is on the boy to disprove the marriage. In Christian and other laws too, the boy has to have convincing evidence to disprove a marriage. These days, with confused youngsters, the entire gamut of family laws has come to revolve around marriages and divorces and cases like that of Monica.

Monica’s case could be a landmark and trendsetting one if it is held that the boy has to disprove a marriage when he denies it having taken place. Whether in Hindu, Christian, Muslim or other sets of marriages like the tribal marriages, where customs and practices dictate the status of marriage, when a girl claims a marriage, the onus should be on the boy to disprove it, especially when authenticated photographs, child birth etc. are proven. If it is established in DNA testing that the child in question is that of the man’s, then too marriage need not have taken place. But what is important is that even if there were a solitary bit of evidence to prove the marriage, the onus of disproving it is on the man in question. This branch of relationship, legal evidence, if applicable uniformly to all marriages would at least make family law less complicated. (Names of the couple involved in the case have been changed to protect their privacy)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017