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Hindu Personal Law & The Myth of Reform in Hindu Society

by Sulaiman Razvi
Some countries allows Personal Laws. Personal Laws deals with civil matters of a community pertaining to marriage, divorce and inheritance. There have been many debates on implementing Uniform Civil Code in India. Hindus say that they are not governed by any personal law but by secular laws of Indian constitution. Though some Hindu laws are codified such as the Hindu Marriage Act but inheritance law of Hindus called Mitakshara and Dayabhaga law is still followed by Hindus and it has legal backing. So it is inappropriate to say that Hindus do not follow personal law. They have their own form of personal law which is not discussed by any media. In some states like Haryana, Hindus believes in Khap Panchayat which is an assembly of village elders pronouncing punishment even in criminal matters. Though Khap Panchayat has no legal status but they are very influential and has emerged as a judicial body. The Hindu code bill faced severe opposition by Hindus who now claim that they happily accepted it and that they change with time. But that’s not true, the Hindu Code Bill was met with strong opposition from Hindu religious leaders and outfits, in 1949 RSS burned effigies of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as a protest against the Hindu Code Bill. The RSS hated Dr. Ambedkar to such an extent and now it is trying to appropriate Dr. Ambedkar to win hearts of Dalits and use them in riots.

Hindus demanding Uniform Civil Code is nothing but a frustration against Muslims. They actually want to enforce their laws on Muslims. Other communities such as Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are also governed by Hindu Marriage Act, had Muslims also followed Hindu Marriage Act then Hindus would not have raised the issue of implementing Uniform Civil Code. Why Hindus have been so intolerant towards those following their religion? Why Hindus are having problem if Muslims are following their religious laws in civil matters? In the future Hindus may also demand that Muslims must convert to Hinduism. After all I find little difference between enforcing religion and enforcing ones laws on others. How can Hindus demand to implement UCC without presenting a draft bill? Vice Chancellor of NALSAR Mr. Faizan Mustafa also said, “In 1941, a drafting committee comprising 8 members was formed under the chairmanship of (Jurist) B N Rao, that gave its report which was later debated, then a Hindu Code Bill was formed but it was not passed and compromised with Hindu Fundamentalists and diluted. Eventually Law Minister Dr B R Ambedkar had to resign over this. So even after 15 years exercise, government could not make a strong and reform law because daughter could not make copartner. That change government could bring in 2005. Still till today, Hindu laws have not been reformed and there are no uniform Hindu laws…So if government wants to bring reform in Muslim laws. It should make a committee of experts, wait for their report, open it for public debate then make any law.”

Muslims are not demanding something new, Muslims just want to retain the Muslim Personal Law. Muslim Personal Law existed since the British era.
Hindu community is hypocritical. At the time of declaring instant triple talaq as unconstitutional, example of ITT in Muslim countries (including Pakistan) was cited. If that’s the case then would there be reservation for Muslims in India as per the religious proportion as there’s reservation for minorities in Parliamentary as well as assembly seats in Muslim majority countries like Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon? Hindus are very desperate to implement UCC without a draft bill, but this desperation is absent in case of Uniform criminal code. Though there is no such word but biasedness against minorities in courts can’t be ignored. Innocent Muslims are spending years and decades in jail on false charges whereas Hindu terrorists and rioters are rarely convicted and in case if they are convicted then they are released on bail within couple of days of their conviction like in the case of Alimuddin where the Hindu convicts were granted bail by court, convicts in Mohsin Shaikh’s murder were granted bail by the judge saying ‘in the name of religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder’. Maya Kodnani was earlier convicted by Gujarat court and later acquitted, accused in Akhlaq, Pehlu, Junaid, Qasim, Pansare, Malegaon blast, Kandhamal riot and numerous others were granted bail by court.

Amnesty reported about Muslim women who were raped by Hindus in Muzaffarnagar riot and they are still awaiting justice yet there is not a mention of it by PM but he often comments on triple talaq “victims”, ironically a man comments on triple talaq who abandoned his wife without uttering a single divorce. Oral Instant Triple Talaq constitutes just 0.3% of all divorces among Muslims yet the issue is over stretched and exaggerated by Hindu leaders and media but there is no mention of those Muslim women who suffered at the hands of Hindus, this includes wives, mothers and daughters of Ehsan Jaffry, Akhlaq, Pehlu, Qasim, Alimuddin, Abdul Ghaffur, Zahid Bhat, Hasmat Ali, Mohammed Ayyub, victims in Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar riots, Kunan Poshpora, 8 years old Asifa and numerous others where Muslim women are still awaiting justice and there’s no mention of these incidents even for once by PM. Rather his ministers are busy garlanding and honouring the culprits.

NDPS act prohibits a person to produce/manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. And Section 294 of Indian Penal Code prohibits a person to roam naked yet Sadhus smokes weed and roams naked. Are they above law? Why they have been exempted from these rules? Why doesn’t Hindutvadis the torch bearers of UCC make them follow Indian Constitution? They say that a secular nation cannot have religious laws, if that’s the case then what is anti-cow slaughter law doing in a secular nation? Anti-cow slaughter law was later added as an amendment. Will Hindus lift ban on communal cow slaughter law if Uniform Civil Code is implemented?

In Goa, only Hindus are allowed Polygamy, not even Muslims can practice polygamy there because of Goa Civil Law. The Hindu men have the right to bigamy under specific circumstances mentioned in Codes of Usages and Customs of Gentile Hindus of Goa (if the wife fails to deliver a child by the age of 25, or if she fails to deliver a male child by the age of 30). For other communities, the law prohibits bigamy. This is not just limited to Goa alone. Though the Hindu Marriage Act prohibits polygamy but Hindus have devised ways to have more than one partner at a time. As discussed in articles Polygamy in Hindu Dharma and Condition of Women in Hindu Society Hindus despite being married are bringing another woman to their house through live-in relationship. Lok Adalat in Madhya Pradesh ordered Basant Mahulal to spend equal time with wife and live-in partner, in Gujarat this practice is legal and is known as Maitri Karar and mostly upper caste Hindu men opt for Maitri Karar, there is also a case of court giving nod to Neha Patani to live with a married man named Sanjay Kumar Patani. In Rajasthan a man named Devdas brought his live-in partner to his house and married her later with his first wife being still alive and living under the same roof. Then what’s the use of prohibiting polygamy for Hindus? Are laws one sided and are they only for Muslims in India? Ironically, Hindus have problem if a woman is brought to the house with reputation of being the wife but they are okay with bringing concubines and mistress to their houses. This is not the only way Hindus practice polygamy, as discussed earlier, Hindus uses another tactic to practice polygamy. Hindus after marrying the second says that their first marriage was not solemnized as some ceremonies pertaining to Hindu law were not duly performed. When a Hindu marries a second wife, the first wife lodges a criminal case against her husband pointing out his polygamy. In many cases the court rejects the case based on meager legal points and eludes the culprit out of punishment.
It’s not just polygamy but even polyandry is practiced by Hindus despite its prohibition. In Parts of Rajasthan and Uttarakkhand there is a custom of Hindu women having several husbands.

Several states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab has cow cess because cow is a sacred animal for Hindus and non-Hindus also has to pay for the upkeep of cow pens. Only Hindus enjoy Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) tax rebate, no other community can have this benefit. Being 80% of the population, only Hindus have got reservation. Reservation to backward classes like SC and ST is justifiable but even upper castes wealthy Hindus are demanding reservation. There was uproar over Hajj subsidy but not even for once did anyone mentioned about thousands of crore rupees that have been given to Hindu pilgrims and festivals like Mansarovar Yatra, Amarnath Yata, Muktinath Yatra, Char Dharm, Kumbh Mela and endowment to temples. Though these are not laws but appeasement of majority and partiality is evident from these things.

On the one hand Hindus wants to implement “secular” Uniform Civil Code and on the other hand they are imposing their beliefs on non-Hindus. Even educational institutions are not spared, Hindus are trying their level best to saffronize educational institutions, Central government run Kendriya Vidyalaya promotes Hinduism through Hindu prayers, BJP minister Vinod Tawde finds no problem in distributing Gita in colleges, BJP wants to make Gita compulsory in schools, BJP in Mumbai, Haryana, Rajasthan have either proposed or made compulsory teaching of Gita, Mahabharata, Veda and Ramayana in schools and colleges, even JNU is set to promote study of Vedas and Upanishads. Have even called for making Sanskrit compulsory in Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh. They are also trying to make Yoga compulsory. The reaction of torch bearers of UCC to these won’t be negative rather they will take pride in imposing their beliefs on non-Hindus. That’s their hypocrisy, they don’t want others to follow religious laws in civil matters but Hindus would proudly impose their beliefs on non-Hindus. The issue of separating religion from duty/nation arises only when Muslims demands to sport beard while doing his job as a policeman or working in other government department but they are okay with saffronization of educational institutions and building of illegal temples in court and government office premises.

Huffington Post had published an article stating, ‘These laws have special considerations for Hindus living in different geographical regions, and belonging to different castes and ethnic groups. For example, in some communities in southern India, marriage between an uncle and a niece is allowed and such unions are preferred. On the other hand, such marriages are proscribed and viewed as incestuous by Hindus in north India. How does one apply UCC in such situations?

One could go on. Another example is that of the inheritance laws. Mitakshara & Dayabhaga are the two different types of methods that the Hindu Inheritance Law provides. People can choose either of the two methods to bestow inheritance. However, the Mitakshara Law doesn’t apply in Bengal and Assam. How do you explain the exceptions given to Hindus of Bengal & Assam?

Nagaland, Mizoram and Tribal States of the North East
At one point, Nagas had picked up weapons against India and demanded ‘Naga Sovereignty’. The insurgency went on for years until an agreement was reached that:
“No Act or law passed by the Union Parliament affecting the following provisions shall have legal force in the Nagaland unless specially applied to it by a majority vote of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly.”
(a) The Religious or Social Practices of the Nagas
(b) The Customary Laws and Procedure
(c) Civil and Criminal Justice so far as these concern decision according to the Naga Customary Law.
A similar amendment was introduced for Mizoram as well in 1968, after a long armed struggle with the Indian forces. Subsequently, the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution was enacted to guarantee similar provisions to other North Eastern states such as Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Tripura. However, Article 44 of the Constitution says that “The State shall endeavor to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” If this article is to be implemented across entire India, this would require these amendments for North Eastern tribal states be removed. Imagine what would be the outcome of such a move?
Ironically, while the torch bearer of UCC call themselves saviours who are carrying the baton of peace, they fail to understand that any attempt to impose UCC will be suicidal as it will incite an armed insurgency across the border states.”

So Hindus follows Mitakshara & Dayabhaga inheritance law, has anti cow slaughter law, has also implemented cow cess in several states, Sadhus roaming naked and smoking weed despite NDPS act and Section 294 of IPC prohibiting it, has special law in Goa, can practice polygamy through live in relationship, even polyandry is prevalent in parts of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, are imposing their beliefs by making their Hindu scriptures and prayers mandatory in educational institutions, has exclusive tax rebate for Hindu Undivided Family, but still they claim that they do not follow any religious law and abide by secular laws of Indian constitution.

The Myth of Reform in Hindu Society

Hindus claim that they change with time, they have reformed their society, they say that implementation of Hindu code bill has brought great change in the Hindu society. But how true is that? Let’s evaluate how much the Hindu society has progressed.
1) Casteism still prevalent. The National Human Rights Commission Report on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes says that, “every 18 minutes a crime is committed against a Dalit. Every day 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered and 2 Dalits Houses are burnt in India, 11 Dalits are beaten. Every week: 13 Dalits are murdered, 5 Dalits home or possessions are burnt, 6 Dalits are kidnapped or abducted.
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/dalits-untouchable-rohith-vemula-caste-discrimination/1/587100.html

2) 84% of 12 million girls married under the age of 10 are Hindus.
http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2016/jun/01/84-percent-of-12-million-married-children-under-10-are-Hindus-935507.html

3) 71% of those married in Uttar Pradesh are minor girls.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/71-of-those-married-in-up-are-minor-girls/articleshow/56695717.cms

4) Hindu community is the least educated religious group in the world as per PEW Research center.
https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/hindus-least-educated-religious-group-in-world-says-survey/story-7tNNhrRn958MlSXZdTPzjM.html

5) Devadasi system still exists, says report by one man commission Justice Raghunath Rao according to whom Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together have about 80,000 Devadasi women
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Devadasi-system-still-exists-in-Telangana-AP-says-report/articleshow/46337859.cms

6) Female foeticide is rampant, 21 Million ‘Unwanted’ Girls, 63 Million ‘Missing’ Women, Says Economic Survey. Gender ratio declined in the Hindu community.
http://www.news18.com/news/india/condition-of-women-improving-but-india-doesnt-want-many-of-them-to-be-born-notes-economic-survey-1644939.html

7) In an informal study of dowry deaths which reached the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court, conducted by Majlis, Mumbai, over 95 per cent of these cases of dowry death were among Hindus.
http://www.boomlive.in/what-has-hindu-law-ever-done-for-women/

8) Bride selling is prevalent in Haryana and Rajasthan, The study conducted in Haryana’s Jind and Kurukshetra districts, which are most notorious for female foeticide, reveals that 66 per cent of the families practising bride trafficking are Jats, followed by 15 per cent Sainis, though the custom is prevalent among almost all other castes.
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bonded-brides/article4307384.ece

9) It was only in 2014 that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) started collecting data on human sacrifice. The statistics with the bureau reveal a disturbing picture: there were 51 cases of human sacrifice spread across 14 states between 2014 and 2016.
https://www.thequint.com/news/india/goddess-kali-worship-does-not-need-human-sacrifice
And the Sadhus practicing cannibalism.

10) Women are humiliated in Manglik practice which is still prevalent, if the bride is Manglik, she is made to first marry a Peepal tree or a dog. It is believed that marrying a Manglik woman results in the early death of the husband. Hence, the woman is first married to a tree or an animal to ward off the evil effects of the curse on her human husband.
https://www.indiatimes.com/culture/who-we-are/10-sexist-indian-marriage-customs-that-need-to-be-banned-233045.html

11) There are 5000-10000 widows living like beggars in Mathura and Vrindavan.
https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/you-do-not-care-about-the-widows-of-india-supreme-court-tells-government/story-IkB1MDQ7wspcPxyaA6iw5J.html

12) Hindus are less likely to use a toilet than Muslims in India.
https://theprint.in/governance/hindus-are-less-likely-to-use-a-toilet-than-muslims-in-india/44959/

13) Hindus are more polygamous than Muslims despite Hindu Marriage Act prohibiting it. And have also invented ways like live-in relationship, Maitri Karar to have more than one partner at a time.
https://scroll.in/article/669083/muslim-women-and-the-surprising-facts-about-polygamy-in-india
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Bigamy-An-issue-of-one-too-many/articleshow/5004493.cms

14) There are 20 lakh abandoned Hindu wives in India.
https://thewire.in/gender/abandoned-women-triple-talaq
So just by bringing a law Hindus cannot claim that their society is reformed. Had their society really being reformed then these evils wouldn’t have existed even after implementation of Hindu Code Bill some 6 decades ago. It suggests that Hindus are still stuck in with their outdated practices and rituals, they have not moved away from these practices and rituals. I have mentioned only few of the evils that exists in their societies. For more information read the article, Condition of Women in Hindu Society.