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Christian widows to get share in husband property

Christian widows to get share in husband property

Author: Our Special Correspondent
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: November 16, 2001

Christian women are finally going to get their share of their husband's property

The Cabinet today agreed to amend the Indian Succession Act to give a Christian widow her "distributive" share in the property of her deceased husband. More important, she will get her share even if there is a contract to the contrary.

"Christian leaders and associations have been urging us to bring this amendment. So have our 23 Christian MPs," parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan said after a Cabinet meeting.

The government has also decided to amend another provision in the Act, which will make immediate implementation of a will possible. "At present, a Christian widow has to wait for five years for the will to come into effect while in the other two religions - Hinduism and Islam - the will can be put into effect immediately," Mahajan said.

Several months ago, the government had brought an amendment to the Christian Marriage Act to make the grounds of divorce equal for both Christian men and women. Women's organisations had mounted pressure on the government to change the Act to bring about gender justice.

In another decision, the Cabinet decided to extend President's rule in Manipur by six months, that is beyond December 1, 2001 till June 1, 2002. A resolution to this effect will be passed in both Houses of Parliament, the minister said.

Manipur was brought under President's rule in June. "Reports from both the Governor and the government indicated that the ground situation in Manipur was still not conducive for holding elections," Mahajan said.

The Cabinet discussed the Prime Minister's three-nation visit and the just concluded WTO meet in Doha. The Prime Minister will give a statement on his visit in both Houses of Parliament next Tuesday, a day after the winter session begins. The commerce minister will make a presentation the next day.

"We are ready for any discussion the Opposition wants," the minister said.

The Cabinet also approved the introduction of the Jute Manufacturers Cess (Amendment) Bill 2001.

The Bill will amend the Jute Manufacturers Cess Act, 1983. The amendment will provide for a maximum cess of four per cent ad valorem on jute manufacturers. For the present, a two per cent ad valorem cess will be levied on jute manufacturers until further orders.

The present cess on jute manufacturers, collected under the 1983 Act, is levied at a fixed rate. The shift will increase the collection of cess substantially and would also provide elasticity of resources. The cess levied and collected under the above Act is used for providing funds to the Jute Manufacturers 'Development Council.

Church plea

Church leaders today requested law minister Arun Jaitley to have another look at the proposed Foreign Contribution (Management and control) Bin.

The leaders fear the draft Bill, in place of the existing Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, will curb welfare activities by Pro-Christian NGOs. According to the Bill, any organisation can be barred from accepting foreign contributions.

The church leaders fear the government is succumbing to pressure from Sangh Parivar hawks who feel the existing law is soft and the government needs to bring in a harsher legislation to keep tabs on foreign donations to certain organisations.

Asked why the church was worried over the proposed Bill, a church official said: "We do not know what exactly the draft Bill contains. Our fear is that it will affect all NGOs, with stringent rules hampering the good work done by some of the NGOs."

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