A Hindu married couple is expected to live together and make every endeavor to live happily with each other during the course of the marriage. Fulfilling their conjugal rights is one of the pillars of marital harmony in Hindu law.
According to the definition of Stridhana by Vijnaneshwara, any property belonging to a woman is termed as Stridhana. This is accepted by some schools in Hindu law and rejected by others.
The word ‘Stridhana’ is equated with the practice of dowry but in Hindu law, the word means ‘woman’s property.’ The word has different meanings when used in connotation with different schools of Hindu law. For instance, Yajnavalkya defined Stridhana with a broad perspective, spanning whatever is given as gifts before the nuptial fire by the bride’s father, mother, husband or brother or kindred or presented to by her husband on marrying another wife.
In Hindu law, a testamentary guardian is one who is appointed by a will. The father of a minor may appoint such a guardian by mentioning it specifically in a will. Earlier, if the father passed away, the testamentary guardian could function based on the will but this has changed now. If a mother survives the father, she becomes the minor’s guardian but not the testamentary guardian. However, if she wants she can appoint a testamentary guardian for her son. The testamentary guardian can be of her choice and not necessarily the same person as appointed by her husband by his will. An important legal point to note is that before the Act of 1956, a mother had no such power to appoint a testamentary guardian for a minor.
In Hindu law, the joint family has always been considered as a patriarchal organization in which the senior most male ascendant is revered as the elder of the family or karta or manager.
Even though the practice of child marriage is decreasing slowly, its prevalence continues to subsist in India. The practice is highest in the eastern and central regions of the nation. Besides, rural, poor and uneducated girls for all over the nation continue to be highly vulnerable to child marriage. According to a 2009 UNICEF report, ‘State of the World’s Children’, 47% of Indian women between the age of 20 and 24 were married before attaining the legal age of 18. Of this, 56% belonged to the rural areas. The report also stated an alarming fact that 40% of the total child marriages cases in the world occur in India.
On 27th March, 2010, the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi was questioned by the Special Investigation Team panel appointed by the Supreme Court. The panel was constituted to probe Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots that took place in 2002.
Since the time of Manu, the Hindu law giver who wrote the comprehensive treatise on Hindu law titled Manusmriti, custom has been recognized as an important source of law. Manu termed custom as ‘acharaha paramodharmaha.’
Among the four Vedas in Hindu Law, the Rig Veda is believed to be the earliest and most powerful repository of knowledge and timeless wisdom.
Hindu Law and Rig Veda
The famous German historian, Max Mueller, stated that the Vedas have a two fold purpose, one is that it belongs to the history of the world and the other is that it belongs to the history of India. India was a powerful hub of trade and commerce. From 1000 BC till1,500 BC, the language called Bhasa or Vedic Sanskrit was prominently in use as we use English today. World over, scholars have continuously tried to unlock the mystical power of the Vedas, particularly the Rig Veda.
For many purposes such as marriage, adoption, succession and dissolution of marriage, Hindus in India follow the laws as revealed in the Vedas and through divine commentaries. Courts in India recognize the Vedas as a source of divine law because the Vedas are believed to be divine. Hindus believe that the Vedas were revealed to sages and ascetics. These revelations were made to guide people through different phases of life as explained in the Vedas.
Hindu Law: Traditional Sources
The traditional sources of Hindu law are: