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Family and State

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Family Law' refers to the set of legal rules which are in practice in India with regards to family' issues marriage, divorce and inheritance, etc. Family law is an area of the law, which deals with family-related issues such as marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoption, surrogacy, annulment, child abuse, divorce, property settlements, alimony and parental responsibility. Family law is the term applied to the rules and laws developed regarding family relationships. Family law rules define not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family and society as a whole.

Main features:
  • It is an inter-disciplinary collection of articles on family law not just by lawyers or legal specialists but includes political scientists, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, religion specialists, etc.
  • It is concerned with a just family law that moves beyond a uniform civil code.
  • Has a strong but not exclusive focus on women and women's issues.

Indian family law is complex, with each religion having its own specific laws which they adhere to. In most states, registering of marriages and divorces is not necessary. There are separate laws governing Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and followers of other religions. The exception to this rule is in the state of Goa, where a Portuguese uniform civil code is in place, in which all religions have a common law regarding marriages, adoption and divorces. In India, Family laws are different for different religions and there is no uniform civil code. This system of distinct laws for each religion began during the British Raj when Warren Hastings in 1772 created provisions prescribes Hindu law for Hindus and Islamic law for Muslims, for litigation relating to personal matters. However, after independence, efforts have been made to modernize different aspects of personal law and bring about uniformity among various religions. Areas in which reform has occurred recently are custody and guardianship laws, succession law, adoption laws, and laws relating to domestic violence and child marriage.

Hindu Law:
As far as Hindus are concerned there is a specific branch of law known as Hindu Law. After independence the attempt made by the first parliament did not succeed in bringing forth a Hindu Code comprising the entire field of Hindu family law, laws could be enacted touching upon all the major areas affecting family life among Hindus in India.

Mohammedan Law:
Indian Muslims' personal laws are based on the Sharia that is partly applied in India. The portion of the fiqh applicable to Indian Muslims as personal law is termed Mohammedan law. The development of the law is mainly on the basis of judicial precedent, which in recent times has been subject to review by the courts.

Christian Law:
As for Christians, there is a distinct branch of law known as Christian Law that is mostly based on specific statutes. Recently, Christian law of Succession and Divorce in India have undergone changes. The Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act of 2001 has brought in considerable changes in the grounds available for divorce. By now Christian law in India has emerged as a separate branch of law, which covers the entire spectrum of family law so far as it concerns Christians in India.

Nationality Law:
Nationality law or citizenship law is largely codified in the constitution of India and the Citizenship Act of 1955. Although the Constitution of India bars multiple citizenship, the Parliament of India passed on January 7, 2004, a law creating a new form of very limited dual nationality called overseas citizenship of India. Overseas citizens of India will not enjoy any form of political rights or participation in the government, and there are no plans to issue to overseas citizens any form of Indian passport.
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