Hindutva blueprint for personal law.
" Academic engagements between academician and social leaders should be encouraged for evolving an objective and dispassionate narrative on Hindu Jurisprudence," Madhav, the director of the India Foundation told M AIL T ODAY . The project is being run by the Centre for Constitutional and Legal Studies of the foundation. Hindu jurisprudence remains a long neglected subject in the country and this is only an attempt to start a debate around it. " We refer to Anglo- Saxon jurisprudence when we use the phrase ' modern jurisprudence'. India had been following its centuries- old unique sociolegal architecture when English law was imposed during the British Raj. We decided to continue with the English legal system even after getting independence.
However, a lot of scholars believe we were a dharma- based society that eventually got transformed into a rulebased society or lawbased society over the last millennium. The idea behind this initiative is to look for possible areas of synthesis between Hindu and modern jurisprudence, specifically in the area of personal laws where these two schools of jurisprudence interact directly," said Guru Prakash, research associate at the Centre.
" Hindu jurisprudence permeates all areas of law because apart from specific legislations, it also focuses on statutory interpretation.
However, in the present day, it focuses more on family law including law of succession, adoption, partition.
Hindu jurisprudence is significant for India as Hindu law governs more than 80 per cent of India's total population that is covered under the definition of " Hindu" in the Hindu Marriage Act- 1956. There is also the Hindu Succession Act- 1956; Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act- 1956; and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act- 1956," said Prakash. There is need to infuse Hindu principles in such laws to a larger extent," he added.
The foundation believes the Hindu Personal Law is based on the British's Oriental understanding.
" The Hindu Marriage Act was inspired by practices in Britain, though it also drew upon several Indian schools of thought also such as Mitakshara and Dayabhaga.
Despite the attempt to Indianise it, it remains a colonial intervention. We were a society and a very thriving one even before British Imperialism. Modern laws are in place, but we want to reinvigorate them with our own laws which were in place even before the onslaught of modernity," said a functionary of the law centre.
According to the foundation, Hindu jurisprudence lays stress on the primacy of the rights of the better half or women, but not in the sense of rationalising the divorce process. On the contrary, the interest of rightwing ideology is to reinforce and embellish the sanctity of the institution of marriage which has " increasingly come under stress" due to globalisation and liberalisation.
" There have been increasing attempts at rationalising laws.
Take for example the divorce laws. While the courts ask divorce- seeking couples to first go into arbitration. However, nowadays, divorce laws are being rationalised: it has become very easy to prove adultery or dowry allegations.
This kind of rationalisation is only weakening the institution of marriage," said Prakash. The foundation sees several inspirations animating Hindu jurisprudence: a number of texts that make up the Hindu traditional wisdom such as Arthashastra, Vidur Niti.
The India Foundation has taken a lead to identify laws of modern and colonial provenance
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