Are Women on the Recognition Ascendency?

July 3, 2023

I will be master of what is mine own;

She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,

My household stuff, my field, my barn,

My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything;

And here she stands, touch her whoever dare.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatic poet in Taming the Shrew.

Things have improved for women ever since 407 years after the death of Shakespeare. One of the latest outstanding instances is the pampering of women under the new Congress government in Karnataka.

Politics has its own self-serving agenda and rationale. But, even the judiciary has jumped on the bandwagon of upholding the rights of women as reflected in the recent judgement of Madras High Court and covered by The Hindu in its daily dated June 24, 2023 - reported by Mohamed Imranullah S and excerpted below.

Homemakers entitled to equal share in properties purchased by their spouses, says Madras High Court

The property may have been purchased either in the name of husband or wife, nevertheless, it must be considered to have been purchased with money saved by their joint efforts,” said Justice Krishnan Ramasamy

A homemaker performs a multi-dexterous job round-the-clock and without any holiday. She is expected to have managerial skills, culinary penchant and a knowledge of accounts and economics too. A woman taking care of a home also performs the job of a home doctor by providing basic medical support to family members. Therefore, her contributions cannot be discounted as valueless, the Madras High Court said.

Justice Krishnan Ramasamy held that a homemaker would be entitled to an equal share in properties purchased by her husband with his earnings, because he could not have earned the money without the support of his wife in looking after the family. “The property may have been purchased either in the name of husband or wife, nevertheless, it must be considered to have been purchased with money saved by their joint efforts,” he wrote.

He went on to state: “When the husband and wife are treated as two wheels of a family cart, then the contribution made either by the husband by earning or the wife by serving and looking after the family and children, would be for the welfare of the family and both are entitled equally to whatever they earned by their joint effort. The proper presumption is that the beneficial interest belongs to them jointly.”

The judge said, a woman could not be left with nothing to call of her own after having devoted herself to taking care of her husband and children. Though no legislation had been enacted so far to recognize the contribution made by a homemaker, the judge said, the courts could very well recognise this contribution and ensure that women get a fair deal when it comes to rewarding their sacrifices.

The verdict was delivered while disposing a 2016 second appeal preferred by an individual against his estranged wife whom he had married in 1965. The couple had two sons and a daughter and he was working in India till 1982. He took up a job in the Middle East between 1983 and 1994. After returning from there, he accused his wife of usurping properties purchased with his earnings. He also alleged that she had had an extra-marital affair.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response should be sent in the format given below (Pl. Scroll down a bit). Once again, welcome to reason.



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Comment on this article

  • mohan prabhu, LL.D. QC, mangalore/canada

    Mon, Jul 03 2023

    Very interesting judgement of the High Court, with which I agree with a few minor reservations. I suppose the learned judge was only referring to the property and assets of both the husband and wife - especially in modern days where the wife is well educated and employed - even earning more than her husband. Otherwise, there is no equity. The judge may have ignored the help given to keep the house in good shape, spending his time not just in cooking and looking after young children while they were growing up, but outdoors doing the heavyweight work. A second point is I hope this judgement does not apply to the property the husband owned/inherited BEFORE the marriage and to the share he gets when his family's property is divided up on the death of his parents. 3. The ruling of the judge is quite consistent with the concept of "community of aquests" which has been in force in California for a very long time, in Canada, was first introduced in Alberta (in the development of which I had a key part when I was with the Alberta Law Reform Commission in the early 1970s),. It is also a part of the law of Ontario since the early 1970s; a husband cannot dispose of matrimonial house (which is most often the largest single asset of a couple), without the consent of the wife (and vice versa). Property acquired by either spouse before marriage is not part of this deal even in divorce; if the wife does not have enough of her own, she is entitled to maintenance. So, before jumping to any conclsions on the "ascendancy" of a woman (or wife), these fact situations have to be taken into account. And it should apply both ways; an equal division of property acquired during the marriage is the most equitable solution.

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