Communal coherence and religious brotherhood have been observed and sustained as the sacramental duty by the people of India. Being home to many cultures and spiritual faiths led to different personal laws in the country. Two major branches of personal laws that governs the citizens are Muslim and Hindu law. These laws have been in force in the country long before the commencement of the Constitution and finds its validity till date under Article 372.
In almost every society and history, women have been marginalized for a long time without being governed by any legal framework. Law was initially intended as a method for reforming our social condition, based on the Western philosophy of the Enlightenment. On the basis of Aristotle’s natural law, Locke, as well as Rousseau, argued that it was natural for a woman to be subject to her husband.
Therefore, as a naturally free and fair human, she cannot be seen. Similarly, the rule of Manu regulated in the South East Indian customs,’ as daughters ought to obey their fathers, as wives obey their husbands, and widows obey their sons.
Women in Hinduism
Brahman created woman, according to the Hinduism, in the sense of imaginative duality to provide men’s ventures and support procreate, progeny and family relations. If we research ancient history, we find that women held top religious and social roles in the Vedic era.
On the other hand, a woman has minimal independence according to tradition. In a household governed by male members, she is a dependent individual. For those who see women as land, Manu Smriti preaches more restricted norms.
Women in Islam
Islam is the first religion in the world to accept and grant women all the rights that men have enjoyed. Islam has liberated women from slavery and has given them equal treatment and recognized their individuality as human beings. By instituting right of land, possession, inheritance, schooling, marriage and divorce, Islam improved the status of women.
The Quran has issued a radical argument that the rights of men and women are equal to their responsibilities. It made an open declaration of gender equality.
Marriage is an alliance or legal contract between partners acknowledged socially or ritually, typically having social or legal responsibilities between the person concerned and any offspring that he or she may bear. It is often considered as a contract. Constitution of India guarantees Right to Marry as a part of Right to life under Article 21. Right to marry also finds recognition under Article 16 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948.
Marriage in Hinduism
In the year 1955 four separate statutes, generally known as a Hindu Code Bill, gave the right and privileges to Hindu female women. The act brought about fundamental reforms in the Hindus marriage practice. It provides the provisions for Hindu Marriage and its registration. Sec 5 deals with the essentials for a Hindu marriage, Sec 7 deals with the ceremonies and Sec 8 talks about the Registration of the marriages.
The Hindu notion of marriage is completely divine and the matrimonial union is unbreakable and even a husband’s death cannot set the wife free from the marriage bond. The Act while retaining the sacred essence of marriage, granted tremendous relief and privileges denied to women historically.
Marriage in Islam
Marriage between Muslims is not a sacrament, but merely a civil arrangement but solemnized by reciting some Qur’anic verses. In India, weddings between both sets of Muslims are usually solemnized by people who know the law and are called Kazis or Mullas.
Islam has granted equal rights to both man and woman. The spouses are equally dependent; they are created for each other to live in harmony and coexistence. As the Holy Quran says.
Maintenance rights are contained in personal law. According to the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 maintenance provisions are not only given to women and minor children but also to parents who are homeless or separated wives. In compliance with respective personal legislation maintenance may be asserted.
Maintenance under Hindu Law
Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act deals with maintenance. This clause also stipulates that the submission shall be disposed of in favor of the wife or husband, where appropriate, within 60 days of the date on which the notice is served, as applicable. Also, section 25 of The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act provides for maintenance. It defines maintenance as provision for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment” and in case of an un married daughter, the provision provides for reasonable expenses for her marriage. According to Hindu Law, the man has personal obligation to maintain his wife, children and parents. Section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act extends two main rights to the woman i.e., separate residence and maintenance. A widow is also empowered under section 19 of the said Act to be maintained by her father-in- law after her husband’s demise.
Maintenance under Muslim Law
Muslim women’s right to maintenance is governed by two statutes, namely, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act,1939 and the Muslim women (protection of right on divorce) Act, 1986. In compliance with the Muslim rule, it is the responsibility of the husband to maintain his wife regardless of her debt to husband and the wife’s right to maintenance is a priority above all other people.
Maintenance also known as Nafkah, encompasses food, raiment and lodging as well as other important livelihood necessities. Though it is mandatory for husband to maintain his wife during the iddat period, maintaining his children is only a personal obligation and not legal. A widow is not entitled to any maintenance from her husband’s estate apart from what she inherited when her husband was alive.
Although women in India obtained the necessary constitutional right to equality between men and women and their right to life and independence, that ensured a dignified and fair status with a male under the Indian constitution. In fact, yet they are considered to be in violation rather than in conformity. In India, the personal laws regulate women’s lives in particular. Men’s male supremacy and women’s unequal representation are influential topics that interlink with much of India’s personal religious rule. While in society all women experience the same sexism or similar discrimination, their personal laws differ ironically.