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A Comparison Of Hindu And Muslim Law
Many aspects of Indian family law are misunderstood. It is widely believed that the legislative reform of Hindu law in the 1950s made it secular and more conducive to gender equality, more so than the family laws of other groups, particularly Muslims.
Many claims that the secularization and homogenization of family law is the only route to greater gender equality. Want to know in detail, you can hire Best Advocates in Lucknow High Court to better understand.
After the Hindu law reforms of the 1950s, statutes governed more areas of Hindu law than Muslim law.
But, religious texts and beliefs influenced these reforms, for instance, the introduction of divorce rights. In addition, these reforms weakened the rights of some women, for instance, the rights of widows to shares in their former husbands' property if they chose to remarry. They further weakened the divorce rights of some Hindu women, who previously could get divorces more easily based on the recognized customs of their castes, and the property rights of others that were governed by matrilineal inheritance laws earlier.
While legislation of the 1950s partly homogenized the major features of Hindu law, the Shariat Act of 1937 had the same effect earlier on Muslim law. It made "Muslim law" applicable to most areas of family life among Indian Muslims (while leaving the content of Muslim law unspecified), and in the process overrode the customs of some Muslim subgroups that had enjoyed legal recognition until then. Partial homogenization was affected in ways that increased the rights of Muslim women more often than it did the rights of Hindu women. This was true, for instance, of the inheritance rights of Muslim women. Daughters gained rights to half the shares that sons enjoyed in their parents' property, in contrast with previously having no rights to inherit parental property. Although no statutes specified these rights, they were recognized in Islam's founding texts as well as in later Islamic jurisprudence, and the Indian judiciary followed these prescriptions in adjudication.
Muslim law is far less codified than Hindu law. Only three short statutes pertain to Muslim law in India: two that outline the divorce and alimony rights of women, and the Shariat Act, which in effect leaves the content of Indian Muslim law to the judiciary's discretion. In contrast, four elaborate acts define the major features of Hindu law. Judges refer far more often to religious sources in adjudicating cases involving Muslims than those involving Hindus.
While Muslim law is less codified and more closely linked to religious sources than Hindu law, the rights of Muslim women are superior to those of Hindu women in some respects. This is true of a daughter's inheritance rights. Hindu daughters have the rights to share equally with sons in intestate succession to their parents' self-earned property, in contrast with Muslim daughters, who have rights to only half the shares that Muslim sons enjoy. However, the succession rights of Hindu daughters are restricted to intestate cases, that is, cases in which the parent did not leave a will. Hindu parents are free to will self-earned property as they wish, typically leaving all or most of such property to their sons, or perhaps other male kin. Male coparcenaries, moreover, control ancestral Hindu property in much of India, and daughters do not have any right to demand the partition of such property so that they may control their shares. (They gained this right since the mid-1980s only in five states.) This gives Hindu women little effective access to most forms of family property.
Muslim daughters have the right to half the shares left to sons in all forms of parental property. Muslim parents cannot deny their daughters rights to inherit shares in their property by the willing self-earned property to male kin alone, or by effectively presenting more of the property they own as being of ancestral origin. While many do so, their daughters can effectively challenge such disinheritance in the courts. Hindu daughters have no legal recourse under such circumstances in much of India. Click here for Family Court Lawyer in Lucknow to know all the family laws in Hindu and Muslims.
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