ANALYSIS ON SOURCES OF HINDU LAW

The phrase “source of law” has several connotations. It may be the authority which issues rules of conduct which are recognized by Courts as binding. In this context, ‘source of law’ means ‘the maker of law’. It may mean the social conditions which inspires the making of law for the governance of the conditions. In this context it means ‘cause of law’. It may also mean in its literal sense the material from which the rules and laws are known. In this sense the expression means the ‘evidence of law’ and it is in this sense that the expression ‘source of law’ is accepted in Jurisprudence.

The sources of Hindu law can be classified under the following two heads:

 I. Ancient Sources

 (i) Shruti

(ii) Smriti

(iii) Digests and Commentaries and

(iv) Custom.

II. Modern Sources

Under this head would come:

(i) Justice, equity and good conscience

(ii) Precedent, and

(iii) Legislation.

It is significant to note that the term ‘Hindu’ is not defined anywhere in terms of religion or in any statute or judicial decisions. For the purpose of determining to whom Hindu Law applies, it is necessary to know who is a Hindu and none of the sources expressly state so. At most from statutes, we can get a negative definition of a Hindu which states that Hindu law shall apply to those who are not Muslim, Christian, Parsi, Jew, etc. and who are not governed by any other law.

Hindu Law is considered to be divine law as it is strongly believed that the sages had attained some spiritual dominion and they could communicate directly with God form whom we get the divine law. But this is only an assumption and no concrete proof for the same is shown that the sages could communicate with God (whose very existence is challenged by atheists). Due to this, many communities are also suffering from the misapprehension or delusion that their forefathers and messiahs had revelations from God.

Justice A.M.Bhattacharjee strongly states that according to him he cannot think that “even a staunch believer in any divine existence, transcendent or immanent, can believe in the ‘divine origin’ of Hindu law, unless he has a motive behind such profession of belief or has not read the Smritis or is ready to believe anything and everything with slavish infidelity.”

According to Justice Markandey Katju, Hindu law does not originate from the Vedas (also called Shruti). He vehemently asserts that there are many who propound that Hindu law originated from the Shrutis but this is a fiction and in fact Hindu law originated from the Smriti books which contained writings from Sanskrit scholars in ancient time who had specialized in law.

The Shrutis hardly consist of any law and the writings ordained in the Smriti do not make any clear-cut distinction between rules of law and rules of morality or religion. In most of the manuscripts, the ethical, moral and legal principles are woven into one. It is perhaps for this reason that according to Hindu tradition, law did not mean only in the Austinian sense of jurisprudence and is objectionable to it; and the word used in place of ‘law’ was the Sanskrit word ‘dharma’ which connotes religion as well as duty.

It has been seen that Hindu law has been critiqued for its orthodoxy, patriarchal character and does not bear a very modern outlook of society. There are many areas where the Hindu law needs to upgrade itself, for example, the irretrievable breakdown theory as a valid ground for divorce is still not recognised under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and even the of Supreme Court have expressed their concern on this. The most valid concern is that the very definition of a ‘Hindu’ is still not given in any of the sources. Statutes give only a negative definition which does not suffice the test of time. The very proponent that Hindu law is divine law has been challenged by scholars and atheists.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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