Personals Laws in India: Colonial Legacy and Constitutional Debates
Personals Laws in India: Colonial Legacy and Constitutional Debates
Purushottama Bilimoria
Abstract: The article traces the trajectory of the development of personal laws in India in the historical context. History is read not only as a set of events over a time, but also through varied conceptions of ‘law’ as they have evolved during the period. Emphasis is given to modifications in Hindu Law and from there the debate is contextualised to understand the evolution of Muslim Law. We argue that legal pluralism has been the order of the day since antiquity, and that the notion of a uniform law comes more a result of the adoption of Western understanding of what common law is and what purposes it needs to serve. While nations like Canada and Australia are exploring ways to give more agency to communities and certain identified sections of the population, it is rather curious that the developments in India are taking us in a reverse direction. The conclusion drawn is that while a Uniform Civil Code may become a reality for the country, it cannot be welcomed if it adopts a singular worldview dominated by a certain understanding of how personal relations of people must be forged in times to come.

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