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Hindu Law - Overview, Sources, Books, Questions

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Hindu Law - Overview, Sources, Books, Questions

Edited By Ritika Jonwal | Updated on Mar 01, 2024 09:55 AM IST

Hindu Law is a complex and multifaceted system encompassing various aspects of life for Hindus in India. It's important to understand that it's not a single, codified code but rather a collection of principles and practices derived from various sources.

Sources of Hindu Law

  • Shruti Hindu scriptures like Vedas and Upanishads, are considered divine revelations.

  • Smriti Legal treatises and commentaries authored by scholars over centuries.

  • Customs and Practices Local and regional customs and traditions are prevalent within different Hindu communities.

  • Judicial Precedents Interpretations and judgments by courts over time.

Important Legislation

  • The Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955 Regulates marriage, divorce, and related matters for Hindus.

  • Hindu Succession Act, 1956 Governs inheritance and succession rights for Hindus.

  • Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 Defines legal procedures and requirements for Hindu adoptions.

Hindu law plays a significant role in shaping the lives of millions of Hindus in India. Understanding its complexities, sources, and evolution is crucial for navigating legal issues and appreciating the multifaceted nature of this ancient legal system.

Hindu law, a complex and multifaceted concept, refers to two distinct interpretations.

1. Historical Legal System

Pre-colonial EraIn various kingdoms and regions, diverse customary laws guided Hindu communities. These laws drew from religious texts like Dharmashastras (smritis) and epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. They primarily addressed personal and family matters like marriage, inheritance, and religious practices.

Colonial Era During British rule, colonial administrators created a codified "Hindu law" based on interpretations of Dharmashastras. This "codified Hindu law" applied to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, ignoring internal diversity and leading to criticism for being insensitive to specific traditions and customs.

Post-Independence After India's independence, various personal laws were enacted for different religious communities, replacing the "codified Hindu law." These laws, like the Hindu Marriage Act and Hindu Succession Act, addressed specific areas like marriage and inheritance while aiming to be more representative of contemporary Hindu society.

2. Philosophical/Theoretical Framework

Dharma as Core Principle Hindu law, in its broader philosophical sense, revolves around the central concept of "dharma," which encompasses righteousness, duty, and ethical conduct.

Sources of Dharma Various sources inform dharma, including

  • Vedas Considered the oldest scriptures, they provide broad principles and values.

  • Dharmashastras elaborate legal texts offer detailed rules and guidelines.

  • Customary practices like local traditions and social norms play a significant role.

  • Judicial precedents - Court decisions over time interpret and adapt legal principles.

  • Emphasis on evolving Interpretations unlike codified legal systems, Hindu law emphasises adaptability and interpretation based on historical context, social changes, and individual circumstances.

Essentials of Marriage

  • Capacity & Consent Both parties must be legally and mentally able to freely and willingly agree to the marriage.

  • Monogamy Polygamy is generally prohibited.

  • Formalization Varies but often involves a ceremony and/or registration.

Marriage in Hindu Law

  • Sacred & Legal is viewed as both a religious and legal union.

  • Essential Conditions Monogamy, age restrictions, sound mind, free consent, no prohibited relationships (sapinda rule).

  • Formalization Customary ceremonies witnessed, and often registered.

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Restitution of Conjugal Rights

Restitution of conjugal rights (RCR) under Hindu Law empowers either spouse to petition the court to compel the other to resume cohabitation and fulfill marital obligations. While intended to address marital discord and potentially revive the relationship, the concept raises various legal and ethical complexities.

Key Features

  • Petition to Court A spouse who has been abandoned without reasonable justification can file an RCR petition seeking a court order mandating the other spouse to return.

  • Grounds for Refusal The court may deny the petition if there are valid reasons for separation, such as cruelty, mental illness, or adultery.

  • Evolution of Interpretation Courts have increasingly adopted a nuanced approach, considering individual circumstances and prioritizing both spousal autonomy and reconciliation possibilities.

Concerns and Criticisms

  • Potential for Coercion Compelling cohabitation might not foster genuine reconciliation and could raise concerns about individual liberty and potential for abuse.

  • Unequal Impact Critics argue that RCR disproportionately burdens wives due to societal pressures and limited economic independence.

  • Compatibility with Modern Values- The concept may appear outdated in light of evolving views on individual choice and autonomy within marriage.

While RCR remains an option in the Indian legal framework, its application hinges on the court's discretion and evolving interpretations. The ongoing debate highlights the tension between preserving marital bonds and respecting individual autonomy, necessitating thoughtful considerations when approaching this complex legal and social issue.

This version is more formal and objective, avoids colloquialisms, and provides additional factual details while still addressing the complexities and criticisms surrounding RCR.

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Judicial Separation Under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) empowers either spouse to file a petition for judicial separation**, which allows them to live separately while remaining legally married. While not a complete dissolution of the marriage like divorce, it offers a middle ground in cases of marital discord.

Grounds for Petition

Identical to Grounds for Divorce Section 10 allows petition on any grounds specified in Section 13(1) for divorce, which include

  • Adultery

  • Cruelty

  • Desertion for at least two years

  • Unsound mind for a continuous period of five years

  • Leprosy or venereal disease in a communicable form

  • Non-consummation of the marriage for three years

Additional Ground for Wife Additionally, a wife can petition based on grounds enumerated in Section 13(2)

  • Polygamy by the husband after the commencement of the Hindu Marriage Act (1955)

  • Conversion of the husband to another religion after marriage

  • Renunciation of the world by the husband

Effects of Judicial Separation

  • Separate Residence Neither spouse is obligated to cohabit with the other.

  • Financial Support The court may order one spouse to provide maintenance to the other depending on their respective needs and income.

  • Custody of Children The court decides on the custody and visitation rights of minor children.

  • Property The court may distribute the couple's property based on equitable principles.

  • Reconciliation The parties can reconcile at any time and resume cohabitation, rendering the decree ineffective.

Things to remember

  • Not Divorce Judicial separation does not dissolve the marriage, so neither spouse can remarry during this period.

  • Conversion to Divorce After one year of separation under a judicial separation decree, either spouse can petition for divorce on the ground of "living separately for one year or more under a decree of judicial separation."

  • Legal Proceedings Filing a petition and attending court hearings are necessary.

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Divorce Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

A Comprehensive Overview

The Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) of 1955 governs divorce proceedings for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in India. Here's a detailed breakdown of its key aspects.

Grounds for Divorce

  • Mutual Consent (Section 13B) Both spouses can dissolve the marriage by mutual agreement if they have been living separately for one year or more and have mutually agreed to a divorce. This requires filing a joint petition and undergoing a cooling-off period of six months.

  • Judicial Pronouncement (Section 13(1)) This allows either spouse to file a petition for divorce on various grounds, including

  • Adultery

  • Cruelty (physical or mental)

  • Desertion for at least two years

  • Unsound mind for a continuous period of five years

  • Leprosy or venereal disease in a communicable form

  • Non-consummation of the marriage for three years

Additional Grounds for Wife (Section 13(2))

  • Polygamy by the husband

  • Conversion of the husband to another religion after marriage

  • Renunciation of the world by the husband

Procedure

1. Petition The aggrieved spouse files a petition before a district court, specifying the grounds for divorce and relevant evidence.

2. Court Hearings The court examines the petition, listens to both parties, and analyzes evidence. Witness testimonies and expert opinions may be involved.

3. Judgment The court, based on its findings, may grant or deny the divorce decree.

4. Appeals Either party can appeal the judgment within a specific timeframe.

Important Considerations

  • Cooling-off Period Even for mutual consent divorces, a mandatory six-month cooling-off period is necessary after filing the petition.

  • Maintenance and Alimony The court may order one spouse to provide financial support to the other based on their needs and income.

  • Custody and Visitation The court determines child custody and visitation rights based on the child's well-being.

  • Distribution of PropertyThe court may divide the couple's property equitably considering various factors.

  • Local Variations Consult a legal professional for specific procedures and interpretations relevant to your location.

Alternatives to Divorce

  • Judicial Separation Allows separate residence while remaining legally married.

  • Mediation Can help couples reach mutually agreeable solutions without formal court proceedings.

Maintenance Under Hindu Law

Essential Points

Maintenance, often referred to as alimony, refers to financial support provided by one spouse to the other, either during marriage or after its dissolution. In Hindu law, various provisions govern maintenance under different circumstances.

1. During Marriage

Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955 Section 18 empowers either spouse to petition the court for maintenance if the other

  • Neglects or refuses to maintain them despite having sufficient means.

  • Lives separately without reasonable justification.

  • Has treated them with cruelty.

  • Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956** This act extends maintenance rights to certain dependents, including

  • Wife unable to maintain herself

  • Children (minor or incapacitated)

  • Aged or infirm parents

2. After Divorce or Judicial Separation

HMA, 1955

  • Section 24 "Interim maintenance" during court proceedings.

  • Section 25 "Permanent alimony" after divorce based on various factors like the spouse's needs, income, and conduct.

  • HAMA, 1956 Maintenance rights for dependents continue even after divorce or judicial separation.

Considerations

  • Quantum of Maintenance Courts consider various factors like living standards, income disparity, and property distribution when determining the amount of maintenance.

  • Duration of Maintenance Maintenance can be permanent, temporary, or periodic, depending on the circumstances.

  • Tax Implications Maintenance payments may have tax implications for both parties.

  • Local Variations Consult a legal professional for specific procedures and interpretations relevant to your location.

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Questions Related To Hindu Law In India

For better conceptual understanding, let's have a look at a few sample questions with detailed explanations.

1. In India, which of the following is NOT a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act?

(a) Cruelty

(b) Mutual consent

(c) Polygamy by the husband

(d) Conversion of the wife to a different religion after marriage

Answer (d) Conversion of the wife to a different religion after marriage

Explanation: While conversion of the husband to a different religion after marriage is a ground for divorce for the wife, the wife's conversion does not qualify under the Hindu Marriage Act.

2. What is the minimum period of desertion required for seeking divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act?

(a) 1 year

(b) 2 years

(c) 3 years

(d) 5 years

Answer (b) 2 years

Explanation: Desertion for at least two years continuously is one of the grounds for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act.

3. What is the primary factor considered by courts when determining child custody in India?

(a) Age of the child only

(b) Wishes of the parents only

(c) Best interests of the child

(d) Religious background of the parents

Answer (c) Best interests of the child

Explanation: The court prioritizes the child's well-being above all else when deciding custody, considering various factors like their age, needs, relationship with each parent, and the ability of each parent to provide for their physical and emotional well-being.

4. In which scenario can a spouse claim maintenance under Hindu Laweven after divorce?

(a) If they remarry after the divorce

(b) If they are financially stable and independent

(c) If they are unable to maintain themselves due to valid reasons

(d) If they have children from the marriage

Answer (c) If they are unable to maintain themselves due to valid reasons

Explanation: A spouse has the right to claim maintenance even after divorce if they cannot support themselves due to factors like age, disability, or lack of employable skills.

5. Which of the following statements is TRUE about legal separation under Hindu law?

(a) It dissolves the marriage and allows both spouses to remarry.

(b) It allows spouses to continue living together while legally separated.

(c) It requires a cooling-off period before either spouse can file for divorce.

(d) It automatically grants equal custody of children to both parents.

Answer (c) It requires a cooling-off period before either spouse can file for divorce.

Explanation: Legal separation allows spouses to live separately while remaining legally married. While they cannot remarry during this period, a one-year cooling-off period applies after legal separation before either spouse can petition for divorce. Custody arrangements are decided based on the child's best interests, not automatically divided equally.

Hindu Law Books

The following is a list of important books for your reference.

  • Mulla's Principles of Hindu Law: Perhaps the most authoritative and comprehensive commentary on Hindu law. It covers both customary laws and the codified Hindu laws enacted after India's independence. This text is a standard reference for courts and legal scholars.

  • Paras Diwan's Modern Hindu Law: Another highly respected work, with a greater focus on the impact of modern statutes on traditional Hindu customs. Its clarity makes it a valuable resource for law students and practitioners.

  • Hindu Succession Act, 1956: This book focuses specifically on the law governing inheritance and succession matters amongst Hindus.

  • Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: Outlines the law pertaining to marriage, divorce, and related issues under Hindu law.

  • Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956: This book delves into the legal principles governing the rights and protection of Hindu minors, along with the principles of guardianship within the Hindu tradition.

  • Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956: Specifically addresses the legal aspects of adoption and maintenance within the Hindu legal framework.

  • Dr. S.R. Myneni's Hindu Law (Family Law-I): A useful textbook designed for law students, offering a clear explanation of principles and enactments.

  • R.K. Agarwal's Hindu Law: Another book aimed at students, providing a good overview with a focus on making the subject matter easy to grasp.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What are the main grounds for divorce in India?

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, grounds for divorce include

* Mutual consent (both spouses agree)

* Adultery

* Cruelty (physical or mental)

* Desertion for at least two years

* Unsound mind for five years

* Leprosy or venereal disease in a communicable form

* Non-consummation of marriage for three years

* Additional grounds for wife polygamy by husband, conversion of husband to different religion after marriage, renunciation of world by husband

2. What is the difference between judicial separation and divorce?
  • Judicial separation Allows spouses to live separately while remaining legally married. They cannot remarry during this period.

  • Divorce Dissolves the marriage, allowing both spouses to remarry.

3. What are the factors considered when deciding child custody in India?

The court prioritizes the child's best interests, considering factors like

  • Child's age, needs, and preferences

  • Relationship with each parent

  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child's physical and emotional well-being

  • Stability and safety of the home environment

4. What are my rights regarding maintenance under Hindu law?

Both spouses have the right to claim maintenance under certain circumstances, including

  • During marriage if the other spouse neglects or refuses to maintain them despite having sufficient means.

  • After divorce or judicial separation based on factors like the spouse's needs, income, and conduct.

5. What are some important things to remember when dealing with Family Law issues?
  • Family Lawmatters are often emotionally charged, so seeking legal advice from a qualified professional is crucial.

  • Every case is unique, and specific laws and interpretations may vary depending on your location.

  •  Documentation and evidence are essential to support your claims.

  •  Mediation and alternative dispute resolution options can be helpful in reaching amicable solutions.

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In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism, Advertising, Marketing Management. Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

5 Jobs Available
Vlogger

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

3 Jobs Available
Publisher

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

3 Jobs Available
Journalist

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

3 Jobs Available
Editor

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

3 Jobs Available
Reporter

Individuals who opt for a career as a reporter may often be at work on national holidays and festivities. He or she pitches various story ideas and covers news stories in risky situations. Students can pursue a BMC (Bachelor of Mass Communication), B.M.M. (Bachelor of Mass Media), or MAJMC (MA in Journalism and Mass Communication) to become a reporter. While we sit at home reporters travel to locations to collect information that carries a news value.  

2 Jobs Available
Corporate Executive

Are you searching for a Corporate Executive job description? A Corporate Executive role comes with administrative duties. He or she provides support to the leadership of the organisation. A Corporate Executive fulfils the business purpose and ensures its financial stability. In this article, we are going to discuss how to become corporate executive.

2 Jobs Available
Multimedia Specialist

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

2 Jobs Available
Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

5 Jobs Available
QA Manager
4 Jobs Available
Quality Controller

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

3 Jobs Available
Production Manager
3 Jobs Available
Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

3 Jobs Available
QA Lead

A QA Lead is in charge of the QA Team. The role of QA Lead comes with the responsibility of assessing services and products in order to determine that he or she meets the quality standards. He or she develops, implements and manages test plans. 

2 Jobs Available
Structural Engineer

A Structural Engineer designs buildings, bridges, and other related structures. He or she analyzes the structures and makes sure the structures are strong enough to be used by the people. A career as a Structural Engineer requires working in the construction process. It comes under the civil engineering discipline. A Structure Engineer creates structural models with the help of computer-aided design software. 

2 Jobs Available
Process Development Engineer

The Process Development Engineers design, implement, manufacture, mine, and other production systems using technical knowledge and expertise in the industry. They use computer modeling software to test technologies and machinery. An individual who is opting career as Process Development Engineer is responsible for developing cost-effective and efficient processes. They also monitor the production process and ensure it functions smoothly and efficiently.

2 Jobs Available
QA Manager
4 Jobs Available
AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

4 Jobs Available
Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

4 Jobs Available
Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

3 Jobs Available
Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

3 Jobs Available
Information Security Manager

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

3 Jobs Available
ITSM Manager
3 Jobs Available
Automation Test Engineer

An Automation Test Engineer job involves executing automated test scripts. He or she identifies the project’s problems and troubleshoots them. The role involves documenting the defect using management tools. He or she works with the application team in order to resolve any issues arising during the testing process. 

2 Jobs Available
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