Author: Malavika Rajkotia,
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publications
The book ‘Intimacy Undone – Marriage, Divorce And Family Law In India’, by Malavika Rajkotia began as a response in the form of a letter to the Chief Justice of the Delhi high court who had accused divorce lawyers of prolonging divorce proceedings unnecessarily. The author’s response was aimed at exposing the lack of understanding of the dynamics of matrimonial conflict, which she believes are much deeper and broader than what is superficially visible. It deconstructs the myth that family law is a soft law governed mostly by common sense as against other branches of law which are perceived to be hard law. This is done by elucidating in the book the tension that exists between men and women, society and law, conservatives and liberals, change and resistance and so on. The book also throws light on the wide margins of personal discretions, and the resulting jurisprudence which is sometimes confused and conflicting, and ends up setting unstable precedents; all of which has deep implications on those who fight legal battles within the ambit of family law.
The author sets out the tone of the book with the remark that “A marriage works when it is structured around a settled intimacy. It may not be happy or even fulfilled but just settled. If this inner life in the structure dies, the courts call the standing social and financial structure left around the structure ‘an empty shell’’
The author pays meticulous attention to gender bias in theory and practice of law in every chapter. Towards the end of the book, in the chapter “On the Misuse of Gender Specific Laws” she addresses the other end of the spectrum. With all her authority o family, marriage and divorce laws, she assiduously deconstructs the myth about the misuse of gender specific laws by women especially with regard to Section 498 A of IPC. While she does not rule out the possibility of an attempt of it being misused on false pretext to trouble the male counterpart by citing example of a person who was jailed for a few days and whose career ended because of false charges framed by the wife under IPC 498A, she cautions that such cases are miniscule compared to the genuine cases and at the same time provides the way to deal with it is not to get away with such provisions rather to treat perjury as an offence and by evaluating each case on a list of various parameters before qualifying it as one under 498 A.