Communal harmony and religious brotherhood have been sustained as the sacramental duty by the citizens of India. Different personal laws exist in the country as it is home to many cultures and religious faiths. Two major branches of personal laws are Muslim Law and Hindu Law.
These laws have been in force in the country long before the commencement of the Constitution and find their validity to date under Article 372.
Women have been marginalized for a long time without being governed by any legal framework in almost every society and history.
Status of women in Hinduism
According to Hinduism, brahman created woman, in the sense of imaginative duality to provide for men’s ventures and support procreation, progeny, and family relations. Women held on the top religious and social roles in the Vedic era. As opposed to this, according to tradition, a woman has minimal independence. In a household, governed by male members, she is merely a dependent individual.
In the year 1955, a Hindu Code Bill gave the right and privileges to Hindu female women. The act brought about fundamental reforms in the Hindu marriage practices. It provides the provisions for Hindu Marriage and its registration. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Section 5 deals with the essentials of a Hindu marriage, Section 7 deals with the ceremonies, and Section 8 talks about the Registration of the marriages.
The notion of a Hindu marriage is completely divine and the matrimonial union between the spouse is unbreakable and even a husband’s death cannot set the wife free from the marriage bond. The Act granted tremendous relief and privileges denied to women historically while retaining the sacred essence of marriage.
The laws of Dharma Shastra never recognized divorce because marriage was considered to be an indissoluble relationship between husband and wife. In the present act, the Hindu marriage and divorce law are modified vitally and dynamically.
Status of women in Islam
Islam is the very first religion in the world to accept and grant women all the rights that men have enjoyed. Islam has set women free from slavery and has granted them equal treatment and improved the status of women by instituting rights of land, possession, inheritance, schooling, marriage, and divorce, Islam.
Marriage between Muslims is not a sacrament and is merely a civil arrangement but solemnized by reciting some Quranic verses. In India, weddings of Muslims are usually solemnized by the people who know the law and are called Kazis or Mullas.
Women’s marriage problems are embedded in her image as a dependent that is passed to her husband from her father’s custody, but women enjoy equal rights of options in Islam.
Islam gives, though, unilateral rights to a husband to pronounce divorce on a wife without justification or cause but this right to divorce (talaq) of the husband, had come under much hammering and criticism in the landmark case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum.