Law seems impersonal and sometimes (most times actually) scary. Any unknown territory is at first hard to understand, difficult to fathom and tough to tread. So is law. It’s a vast space of black and white literally and otherwise.
Let’s have a look at the questions and some answers to the most common legal queries that come up on this forum :
1. Marital Issues
A. Stree Dhan : Any and all jewellery/property/anything of value given at the time of marriage is part of your stree dhan and forms an integral part of your wedding gifts. It belongs to the woman and no one else. It has been often observed by me that the jewellery is often handed over/ demanded to be handed over to the in laws after marriage. I would strongly advise against this practice. Pragmatism over emotions always!
Points to be kept in mind :
a. The woman should make a list of all the gifts and properties received before, during and after marriage from her family, husband’s family, friends, and other acquaintances.
b. The woman should keep evidence for all the gifts received such as wedding pictures. Also, ensure that the gifts and their bills are in her name and preserve these bills.
c. The woman should open a bank locker in her name for storing jewelry and instruments of money, property and so on. Ideally open a locker before you get married so that this cannot be questioned later on.
B. Abuse : Abuse has many faces, much like mythological characters. Its shape shifting and sometimes veiled. Abuse can be physical/sexual, mental, emotional or financial. At the base of abuse is the tendency to control and the need for power. Marriage creates one of the most intimate relationships known to us and thus abuse may go unnoticed for years.
Domestic abuse may not always look the same but there are some red flags i.e. does your partner always put you down? Does your partner blame you for their outbursts?. Recognising abuse needs some sort of handholding and guidance. I would suggest to reach out to a close family member to get clarity.
C. Infidelity/Cheating/Adultery : Whereas till 2018 adultery was considered a crime it is no longer so as held by a Supreme Court Judgement. It is however, a solid ground for divorce/legal separation. In the event that one is suspicious of adultery by the partner, I would recommend first gathering enough evidence before confronting or taking any legal/formal action.
2. Inheritance/Property Related Issues :
Another grey area due to personal involvement of parties and lack of clarity regarding the laws. Though a woman (both married and unmarried) is now a legal heir, the difference lies in the property being family or self acquired property of the father. Also, whether a will has been made or has the owner passed away intestate (without a will). There have been other more complicated questions of law that have been asked on this forum, which in my opinion require detailed analysis and study before they can be answered.
The above is a humble attempt by the author to simplify law to a certain extent
This article is by Anandini Purohit:Member, Supreme Court Bar Association
Anandini is a a full time mom and a passionate lawyer, in that order. She chose law for the love of the profession and continues to work with honesty and integrity. In her free time she likes to travel (an orophile through and through) read and listen to old songs.
She can be reached at [email protected]