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Raped woman's testimony overrides medical evidence

By Rakesh Shukla

The sexist attitudes of a patriarchal society ensure that convictions in rape cases in India are rare. The recent Supreme Court judgment, convicting the accused solely on the basis of the complainant's testimony, is therefore a welcome departure from the norm

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At odds with the Domestic Violence Act

By Rakesh Shukla

In its first ever judgment involving the Domestic Violence Act, the Supreme Court gives an interpretation clearly at odds with the objectives of the Act and against the interests of women who face domestic violence

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Defining mental cruelty

By Rakesh Shukla

In a recent judgment the Supreme Court attempted to clarify the concept of 'mental cruelty' in matrimonial law. Do these conditions and definitions work in a country like India with so much gender inequality?

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A setback for the battle against dowry

By Rakesh Shukla

A recent Supreme Court judgment stating that money demanded on account of financial stringency or to meet urgent domestic expenses does not constitute dowry has serious repercussions for ongoing and future dowry-related cases

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Children of void marriages and inheritance rights

By Rakesh Shukla

What is the status and rights of children from marriages that are declared null and void? Can they legally inherit property?

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Multiple testimonies by victims of gender violence

By Rakesh Shukla

The courts tend to take an insensitive stand on the multiple, and often contradictory, versions of victims/survivors of gender violence - whether it's Zaheera Sheikh of the Best Bakery case or a woman widowed in the 1984 riots. Surely the trauma of the individual concerned should be taken into consideration?

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Love, inter-caste marriage and criminal law

By Rakesh Shukla

The Supreme Court recently ruled that there is no bar on inter-caste or inter-religion marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act. Anyone who harasses, threatens or subjects such a couple to acts of violence will be prosecuted

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Looking after children of women prisoners

By Rakesh Shukla

In response to a public interest litigation, the Supreme Court of India has issued directions to the central and state governments to provide children of women prisoners in jail, and their mothers, the facilities and opportunity to lead normal healthy lives

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The 'fault theory' vs the 'breakdown theory' of divorce

By Rakesh Shukla

Should divorce be granted solely on the basis of who is 'at fault'? Or should 'irretrievable breakdown' of a marriage be cause for divorce? In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court held that situations causing misery should not be allowed to continue indefinitely, and that the dissolution of a marriage that could not be salvaged was in the interests of all concerned

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Dowry deaths and dying declarations

By Rakesh Shukla

Dying declarations are vital evidence in establishing dowry deaths. When a woman dies without making such a statement, but has earlier alleged harassment and threats to her life, can her statements be considered a 'dying declaration'?

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Urmil's story

By Rakesh Shukla

What constitutes a dowry death? Various amendments have been made to the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 to make the law more effective. The Pawan Kumar vs State of Haryana judgment on the dowry death of Urmil is significant in this regard

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Convert and remarry?

By Rakesh Shukla

If a non-Muslim converts to Islam without any real change in belief, merely to avoid an earlier marriage and enter into a second one, should the second marriage be considered void and the person prosecuted for bigamy?

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Maternity benefits for all women

By Rakesh Shukla

Thousands of women all over India earn daily wages as 'muster-roll' employees. Though they work without a break in service they are not made permanent, and are not entitled to maternity leave and other benefits. A Supreme Court judgment in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi versus Female Workers case in 2000, changed all that

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The two-child qualification for panchayat officials is gender-insensitive

By Rakesh Shukla

In upholding Haryana's legislation disqualifying men and women with more than two children from holding office at the panchayat level, the Supreme Court of India may be compromising the rights of women. This is the first in a new series on the crucial impact of judicial interventions on India's women by Rakesh Shukla

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First case of infanticide against family registered in Rajasthan

There are just 13 girls in the village of Devra. A possible 14th could have been the victim of the widespread practice of female infanticide

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Planning Commission proposes financial aid for rape victims

A victim of rape could be given financial aid of up to Rs 3 lakh if a criminal injuries board is satisfied, prima facie, that a case exists

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Strong legislation but poor implementation continues to kill off girls

A law to curb the misuse of technology to determine the sex of the foetus, and thereby curb sex selective abortion, has now been in force for 14 years. So, why has India got the worst child sex ratio since Independence?

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Maharashtra to provide 50% reservation for women in state local bodies

Political parties in Maharashtra will have to nominate 130,734 women in local bodies during elections, now that the state cabinet has approved increasing the women’s quota from 33% to 50%

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Indian men most sexually violent, says survey of six developing nations

Twenty-four per cent of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives, 20% forced their partners to have sex with them, and only 17% of Indian men could be considered ‘highly equitable’, reveals a survey of six developing countries

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SC lets off rapists after they agree to pay Rs 50,000 fine

Though rape is not a compoundable offence, the Supreme Court gave in to the plea that the offence occurred 15 years ago; the three convicts and the victim agreed to a fine of Rs 50,000 from each and termination of the 10-year sentence

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