Indian law on matters pertaining to marriage, divorce and succession are governed by personal laws. In Muslim matrimonial mattesr, the laws on a Muslim woman's right to maintenance are clearly laid down. In August 2010, the Delhi High Court ruled that a Muslim man is liable to pay maintenance, to his ex-wife and minor children, until she remarries. Further, the court held that a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to maintenance under the Criminal Procedure Code. The court further said that this is applicable regardless of the provisions of the Muslim law. Muslim law also provides that a person is liable to pay maintenance to his divorced wife, only for the Iddat period (nearly 3 months after dissolution of the marriage).
The 2001 official census reports state that the Parsi community forms 0.006% of India’s total population, with relatively high concentration in Mumbai. A few facts about the Parsis that you probably know already – they are followers of Zoroastrianism. The Parsis in India are believed to be the descendents of Iranian Zoroastrians, who migrated to India during the 10th century A.D. The Constitution of India allows the Parsis, as all others, to practice their religion freely. Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to freedom of religion, under which all of us, as Indian citizens, enjoy the same freedom too.
As per India legal news reports, the Madras High Court has held that the courts in the country have jurisdiction to address matrimonial cases, which involve Hindus and are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, including those cases where the opposite party is a foreign citizen, residing outside India.
The Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, was enacted with an objective, namely to protect the rights of divorced Muslim women. The Act, entitles a divorced Muslim woman, to claim maintenance from her ex-husband. Further, it provides that the husband is obliged to provide maintenance within the period of iddat (waiting period imposed upon a Muslim woman, after dissolution of her marriage). However, the obligation is not restricted to the period of iddat. Also, the Act provides that in case her husband fails to provide maintenance, she can approach the Wakf Board for the same.
Indian laws do not recognize a de facto guardian as the minor’s legal guardian. When a minor has no legal guardian, usually a close relative takes care of him and his property. Such a person is known as de facto guardian, who is not a lawful guardian. However, a de facto guardian shall be also the de facto manager of the minor’s property. He may apply for legal guardianship, in court under the Guardian and Wards Act.
The right of pre-emption or Shuffa, is a preferential right as it implies ‘to become the buyer of an immovable property.’ The principle of pre-emption was developed under the Muslim law, to prevent a stranger from becoming a co-owner of the property, which may cause inconvenience. The right of pre-emption arises only when a complete sale takes place.
India has always boasted of having a patriarchal society. Most festivals of India celebrate the importance of the male as the head of the family through elaborate customs and festivals. For example, Bengal’s Jamaishoshti festival celebrates the son-in-law. The North Indian festival called the Karva Chauth requires the wife to hold fast for the long life of her husband on that day. Male centric customs and festivals have always been a part of Indian life, mirroring the special social status given to men. Unfortunately, these male-focused customs also paved the way for the practice of demanding dowry on behalf of the male. Indian law treats it as an offence to give or receive dowry but it is practiced openly in the society.
The Muslim law of inheritance has been derived from the rules laid down in the Quran. Indian law also recognizes that a Muslim child is considered legitimate only, if born under lawful matrimony. Under Muslim law, a child born outside the lawful wedlock is considered ‘filius nullius’ i.e. a son of nobody. Simply put, the child will be considered as an illegitimate child. Such a child owes no ‘nasab’ i.e. lineage to either parent.
India legal news reports have consistently discussed the growing menace of honor killings in different parts of the country. The situation is going out of hand to such an extent that young Indian couples are being ruthlessly killed by their own relatives for marrying within the same gotra or for marrying outside the caste. It is every individual’s legal right to marry whoever he/she wants. Such incidents give rise to some baffling questions, such as:
- Are these crimes committed to preserve and protect family/caste honor?
- Who decides what is honorable? Is the family or a caste related community?
- Will a law against honor killings, bring any significant social change?
Divorce is the formal termination or legal dissolution of a marriage. Every nation has distinct laws safeguarding the rights of both the spouses in a marriage. In India, the laws take into account religious distinctions. Divorce of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains is governed by the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, divorce of Muslims is governed by the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939 and Christians need to follow the laws laid down under the Indian Divorce Act of 1869. There are separate laws for inter-cast or inter-religion marriages. These fall under the Special Marriage Act of 1954.