Friday, March 31, 2006

Infertility no ground for divorce: SC

Kathmandu, March 31-The Supreme Court on thrusday scrapped a provision in the Civil Code 1963 that allows men to seek divorce on account of partners’ infertility.

A three-member bench comprising justices Kedar Prasad Giri, Khil Raj Regmi and Sharada Shrestha held that the provision was discriminatory and violated women’s rights and declared it inconsistent with the Constitution of 1990.

Section 1(1) under Husband and Wife Chapter of the Civil Code 1963 let men seek divorce if a government-recognised medical board affirmed a wife’s inability to conceive.

The bench also issued a directive to the government authorities — Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the House of Representatives, National Assembly, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and Nepal Law Reform Commission — to promulgate suitable legal provision to overcome the inconsistency.

Accusing the authorities of amending the Civil Code in 2002 with the discriminatory provision, advocates Meera Dhungana and Bishnu Gurung of Forum for Women, Law and Development had filed the petition a year ago.

The petitioners claimed that the provision was discriminatory as it did not allow women to seek divorce if their husbands were impotent. They argued that the provision was a result of the discriminatory and patriarchal thinking of the state authorities.

They claimed that it was against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979 and several other conventions on women’s rights. They also claimed that it was a violation of Article 11 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality between men and women.

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