The importance of customs in different personal laws of India by Zainub @LEXCLIQ.

Customs consists of rules of conduct which are generally observed. They are important source of law because they exist as established usage, they are nothing but usage and habits. They are one of the oldest form of law making.

Ingredients of customs:

Certain test or essential elements have been laid down by the jurist which a custom must satisfy for its judicial recognition.

  1. Antiquity- must be in existence from time immemorial.
  2. Continuous in nature- must have been practices continuously, otherwise a presumption arises against it.
  3. Reasonableness- must be useful and convenient to the society  .
  4. Peaceful enjoyment- no violence against it.
  5. Universal or General.
  6. Certainty- must be certain and definite.
  7. Consistency- must not be in conflict with other established customs.
  8. Must not be against principles of morality.


Personal law is characterised as a set of laws that apply to a specific class or group of persons, or to a single individual, based on their religions, faiths, and cultures. Everyone in India belongs to a different caste, practises a different religion, and has their own faith and beliefs. And these laws are created by taking into account the religion’s various customs. Since the colonial era, Indians have followed these rules.


Personal laws for Hindus can be found in:

The Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajurva Veda, and Atharva Veda make up the ‘Shruti,’ which comprises all four Vedas.

The ‘Smritis,’ which are Hindu religious teachings and sayings passed down through the centuries, as well as commentaries written by many historical writers on the ‘Smritis.’These are applicable to  issues related to matters of inheritance, succession, marriage, adoption, co-parenting, the partition of property, obligations of sons to pay their father’s debts, guardianship, maintenance and religious and charitable donations.


Muslims are governed by personal rules and customs. Inheritance, wills, inheritance, legacies, marriage, dowry, divorce, gifts, wakfs, guardianship, and pre-emption are all secured.


Likewise during 1972 The Christian Marriage Act, has instructions on dealing with matters related to matters of marriage.

In India with the passage of time, different religions have enacted their customs as their personal laws and now some of them are codified too.

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