Laws relating to marriage have been clearly codified in different Acts which are applicable to people of different religion. These acts are:
• The Converts’ Marriage Dissolution Act, enacted during 1866
• The Indian Divorce Act, enacted in 1869
• The Indian Christian Marriage Act, enacted during 1872
• The Kazis Act, enacted during 1880
• The Anand Marriage Act, enacted in 1909
• The Indian Succession Act, enacted during 1925
• The Child Marriage Restraint Act, enacted in 1929
• The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, enacted in 1936
• The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, enacted during 1939
• The Special Marriage Act, enacted during 1954
• The Hindu Marriage Act, enacted during 1955
• The Foreign Marriage Act, enacted in 1969 and
• The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, enacted in 1986.
In personal cases, courts are required to work with the personal laws when the issue is not being covered by any statutory law. For instance, let’s take a brief look at Hindu personal law.
Hindu Personal Laws
Hindus personal laws can be found in:
• The ‘Shruti’ which contains all the four Vedas, namely Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajurva Veda, and Atharva Veda.
• The ‘Smritis’ which are handed down teachings and sayings of Rishis and holy men of Hindu religion and the commentaries written by many historic authors about the ‘Smritis’. There are three types of Smritis, namely: Codes of Manu, Yajnavalkya, and Narada.
Sources of Muslim Personal Law
• The Holy Quran
• The sayings and teachings of Prophet Mohammed carefully preserved in tradition and passed down generation to generation by holy men.
• Ijma, the agreement of Muslim scholars, companions, and disciple of Prophet Mohammed on matters of religion.
• Kiyas, an analysis made using Quran, sayings of Prophet Mohammed, and Ijma when any individual one of them is not applicable to a particular case.
• Digests and commentaries on Muslim law, written by ancient Muslim scholars. The most famous include Hedaya(composed in the 12th century) and Fatawa Alamgiri, compiled under the instructions of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgiri.
Christian Personal Law
The Christian Marriage Act, enacted during 1972 has instructions on dealing with matters related to matters of marriage. Indian divorce act enacted during 1869 contains matters related to divorce.
Under the directions of this act, the husband can appeal for divorce on grounds of adultery by the wife.
Similarly, the wife can appeal for divorce on the grounds that the husband has converted to another religion or has married another woman or if he is found guilty
Under that section the husband can seek divorce on grounds of adultery on the part of his wife and the wife can seek divorce on the ground that the husband has converted to another religion and has gone through marriage with another woman or has been guilty of any of the acts mentioned in the act
The barriers to personal law and Part III of the Indian Constitution
• Personal laws don’t seem to be laws in force under Article 13 of the Constitution as they are supported religious precepts and customary practice; and
• The principles enshrined within Part III of the Constitution can not be applied to the personal laws.