Part of: Prelims and GS-II Policies and interventions
Context: The Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing a fresh challenge to the provision allowing restitution of conjugal rights under Hindu personal laws.
About Conjugal rights
- Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with restitution of conjugal rights.
- It recognises one aspect of conjugal rights — the right to consortium and protects it by allowing a spouse to move court to enforce the right.
- Conjugal rights are rights created by marriage, i.e. right of the husband or the wife to the society of the other spouse.
- The law recognises these rights— both in personal laws dealing with marriage, divorce etc, and in criminal law requiring payment of maintenance and alimony to a spouse.
- Conjugal Rights includes:
- Living together: The spouses or the married couple should live together
- Marital intercourse: The spouses or the married couple have rights and duties together with each other and have physical or sexual relationships.
- Comfort to each other: The spouses should give comfort to each other like; emotional and mental comfort.
- Matrimonial Obligation: The married couple is supposed to share the responsibility of the households as well.
Why has the law been challenged?
- Main ground is that it is violative of the fundamental right to privacy.
- It amounted to a “coercive act” on the part of the state, which violates one’s sexual and decisional autonomy, and right to privacy and dignity.
- The provision disproportionately affects women. Women are often called back to marital homes under the provision, and given that marital rape is not a crime, leaves them susceptible to such coerced cohabitation.
- Also in question is whether the state can have such a compelling interest in protecting the institution of marriage that it allows a legislation to enforce cohabitation of spouses.
News Source: TH