Despite the Constitution's call for a uniform civil code the system of community-specific personal laws remains the order of the day in India. The codified personal law applicable under this conventional regime to four different religious communities, together having over 80% share in the country's population, IS inaccurately called 'Hindu law.'
The book offers a critical study of this major component of India's family law from certain new angles. Statutory provisions and their judicial interpretations have been viewed and presented in it in a historical, constitutional and human rights perspective. Since this law, like all other personal laws, has to be applied along with and subject to a number of general statutes. Their provisions have also been brought into discussion in all chapters.
The book is advancement over the author's earlier work Studies in Hindu Low last published in 1998 and registers all legislative developments and judicial verdicts of the new millennium.
A veteran scholar and a distinguished Professor of Law, the author has been Chair of the National Minorities Commission and a Proactive Member of the Law Commission of India. He also authored recommendations of Ranganath Misra Commission for Minorities.
A former Dean of the Delhi University Faculty of Law, he is currently Chair of the prestigious Amity University's Institute of Advanced Legal Studies which he had founded in 2003.
Having a special research interest in religio-Iegal studies and family jurisprudence, Professor Mahmood has penned a large number of books in these areas. His opinions have been cited in numerous judgments of the higher courts of India and other countries.
The personal law system has for centuries been, and remains, a distinctive feature of pluralist India's legal culture. The so-called 'Hindu law' is actually the personal law, largely reformed and codified, of four Indian communities - Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. As they have together over 80% share in India's population, their personal law constitutes the principal chapter of modem India's family and succession laws. This book offers a critical study of its provisions in a historical, constitutional and human rights perspective.
Hindu law has been one of my major interest areas since the beginning of my academic career. My first elementary book on the subject Changing Law of the Hindu Society, a monograph based on the lectures I had delivered as a greenhorn at the Aligarh Muslim University, was published in Delhi in 1968. Thirteen years later came out from Allahabad my 750-page critical work Studies in Hindu Law. Brought out in a second edition in 1986 and in several reprints until 1998, it was cited in a number of judicial decisions. This year I was approached by the publishers for its revision, but instead of updating that outdated book I decided to venture a fresh work on the subject.
Besides an elaborate Prologue introducing the subject, this book is arranged into three Parts - Matrimonial Law, Family Rights and Relations, and Property and Succession Laws - each beginning with the texts of the governing statutes and offering in the succeeding Chapters my understanding and evaluation of their provisions. Texts of other laws relevant to the subject have been provided in three Appendices to the book. A large number of cases have been decided in the last two decades by the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts covering almost all provisions of the four Hindu-law Acts of 1955-56. In dealing with case law the focus of the book is on the recent cases reported till January 2014; old cases have been referred to only where considered necessary.
I hope the book will be found of some use by the Bench and the Bar and in the fraternity of law teachers, researchers and students.
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