• In the coming week, the Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing a fresh challenge to the provision allowing restitution of conjugal rights under Hindu personal laws. In 2019, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the pleas.
• 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.
• Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 recognises one aspect of conjugal rights — the right to consortium and protects it by allowing a spouse to move court to enforce the right.
• The concept of restitution of conjugal rights is codified in Hindu personal law now, but has colonial origins and has genesis in ecclesiastical law. Incidentally, in 1970, the United Kingdom repealed the law on restitution of conjugal rights.
• Similar provisions exist in Muslim personal law as well as the Divorce Act, 1869, which governs Christian family law.
• The law is being challenged now on the main grounds that it violative of the fundamental right to privacy.
Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: Conjugal rights
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