The term “Hindu” originally is not an Indian word. The term “Hindu” was first used by the Greeks and then the Persians to refer to land and people who reside beyond the Indus River.
Concept of Hindu Law-
Hindu law is a law which emanates from Smritis set forth in Sanskrit commentaries and digests. The Smritis texts however do not make any clear cut distinction between rules of law and rules of morality or religion. These rules of religion and morality were dealt with at one and the same place with the rules of law. In the case of ShriBalsu, the Hon’ble Privy Council distinguished between legal and moral rules. The High Courts in India have tried to lay down some tests. On the basis of which entire body of Hindu Law has been built up. Even during the Mohammedan rule in the country, the Smriti law was continued to be fully recognized.
Applicability of the Hindu Law-
Hindu Law applies to all persons who are Hindus but there is still no precise definition of the term Hindu either in any statute or in any judicial decision. Hindu law is applicable to the following categories of persons:-
- Any person who is a Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist-
There are two type of persons fall in this category such as:
- A person who follows the Hindu religion either by practicing it or by professing it.
- A person who converted to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Perumal v/s Poonuswami [1971 S.C. 2352]observed that an individual could also be a Hindu by birth or by conversion. No formal ceremony of purification or expiation is important to effectuate conversion. Only bonafide intention to be converted to the Hindu faith amid conduct unequivocally expressing that intention could also be a sufficient evidence of conversion. A person who is a reconvert to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism is also a Hindu.
- Any person who is born Hindu by birth-
The following persons are deemed to be Hindus by birth:
- When both the parents are Hindu then the child is known to be Hindu by birth. Such a child may be legitimate or illegitimate. It is not necessary that such a child does or does not profess, practice or has faith in the religion of its parents.
- When only one parent is Hindu and the child is brought up as a member of Hindu family, he is called to be Hindu. It is not necessary that the child’s religion is of his father.
In the case of Ram Prasad v/s Dahin Bibi [AIR 1924 Pat. 420] The Hon’ble Court observed thatif a child is born of Hindu mother and Muslim father. The child is brought up as a Hindu. Subsequently, mother converts to Islam. Nonetheless the child is Hindu.
- Any person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew and who is not governed by any other law- In such case,it has to prove that Hindu Law is not applicable to such a person. Here in this class those persons falls who are atheists or who believe in all faiths or in conglomeration of faiths. Under the codified Hindu Law such persons are going to be called as Hindus for the purpose of the application of Hindu law.
Non-Applicability of Hindu Law-
- It is not applicable for a legitimate/illegitimate child whose father is a Hindu and mother is Christian and the child is brought up as a Christian.
- It is not applicable to the Hindus who are converted to Muslims, Christians, Parsis or Jews.
Associate at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S. Nagar Mohali