The law makers of India understood that India being a kaleidoscope of religion and culture, it cannot be governed by a single central law, especially in matters relating to the personal beliefs and practices.
The law makers of India understood that India being a kaleidoscope of religion and culture, it cannot be governed by a single central law, especially in matters relating to the personal beliefs and practices. Thus, personal laws for each religion, giving validity to its own ancient beliefs and practices were enacted. Even though these laws were enacted to save one’s religious belief, these laws based on the practices and customs of patriarchal era resulted in men having more rights than women, more specifically Hindu law being the most progressive law with most amendments when compared with other personal laws, still failed to confer equal right to women.
WOMEN IN HINDU LAW
I would like to make it very clear that, the present day Hindu law is the result of the codification of the principles of ‘Dharma sastra’, belonging to the time when women were not considered at par with men, and therefore such discrimination still exist in some provisions. Some of such instances being:
MAINTENANCE: Under Hindu law, even though women’s right of maintenance is protected, it still fails to provide a proper mechanism to ensure they receive proper payments from their husband. She again has to come before the court in such cases, which is never the swift remedy.
PROPERTY RIGHTS: In case of coparcenary property, women are not even considered as a coparcener, but men acquire the right of such property by birth itself. Moreover, in case of succession of property, a childless women did not have the right to inherit any property both from her father and husband. This discrimination was over thrown by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, where women were given equal rights and share on the coparcenary property as that of men.
This does not abolish all discrimination under the act and I would like to point out that in case of self-acquired property of married women, her parents will only inherit such property only in the absence of children, husband and her husband’s heirs. Moreover,a widowed woman, whatever her economic situation maybe, will not be able to inherit any share in her husband’s property if a will was bestowed against her.
ADOPTION:Though it is the women who gives birth to a child, a married women under Hindu law cannot adopt even with the consent of her husband, as the law only allows the husband to adopt both legally and factually after obtaining consent from his wife for it to be considered as a valid adoption.
AUTHORITY OF HINDU LAWS
Now none of us can deny the fact that, Hindu laws are oppressive to women, and this might also rise a question among us as to, why are these discriminative laws still exist and why are they not repealed for being inconsistent with the fundamental rights? Well my answer to that would be, even though these laws derive sits absolute authority under Article 25,personal laws in general gains its authority due to socio political considerations, therefore, it will not be over-throw completely by the centre government and will only be amended as and when there is a public outrage against the same, unless the public start to demand for Uniform civil code(UCC).
The UCC, though not supported by all sections of the public and even though the government shows no intent to establish the same, don’t you think it is important to establish a uniform law not just because it would a right step toward the secular state of the nation but also to enact a new law, which also takes into consideration the current status and problems of not just Hindu women but women in general. So I finish with this, how long will it take for us to realise the need and demand for the UCC to create a gender-neutral and secular personal law for all?
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