‘Second wife’s rights must be protected, but Fiza case different’

December 19th, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) The National Commission for Women (NCW) Friday sought amendments in the criminal law by which the second wife’s rights are protected. It, however, pointed out that the case of former Haryana deputy chief minister Chander Mohan’s second wife Fiza was different. “Women like Anuradha Bali or Fiza (as she is now known) have entered into a relationship knowing full well that her partner is already married. What the NCW is working on is to propose amendments so that a second wife, who is not aware of her partner being already married, is not left bereft of her rights,” Meenakshi Lekhi, advocate and a member of the committee formed by the NCW to work out the details of the amendments to be proposed, told IANS.

“We want to make it very clear that we are not talking about people who enter into relationships for convenience’s sake. When we say ’second wife’, the couple has to have had some kind of customary marriage,” she added.

The NCW committee, which was formed a fortnight back, held its first meeting Friday and has come up with three main conclusions while discussing amendments to section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Girija Vyas, chairperson of the NCW, said: “The second wife has the right to maintenance, not just of herself but of her children as well. In this context, we want the word ‘live in’ relationship to be replaced with ‘a relationship in the nature of marriage’.

“Also, for her rights - be it property rights or maintenance to be respected, there has to be a time frame of the relationship”.

On the question of how does one decide what time frame is appropriate for a woman to claim her rights, Vyas said that will be up to the court to decide.

Coming back to the case of already married Chander Mohan and Anuradha Bali, who embraced Islam and secretly got married in Uttar Pradesh last month, Lekhi said that Mohan’s first wife has been victimised.

“But we (NCW) can’t take any action because his first wife has not approached us,” she added.

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