Since the last edition of this book in 1996, there has been an increasing awareness and implementation of the concept of individual equality politically, socially and judicially. This has led to major statutory changes in personal laws particularly those relating to marriage. Most of these changes have been presaged by judicial decisions particularly of the High Courts. Enactments such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 and the Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act 2001, are illustrative of this trend and have been dealt with extensively in the present edition. Several landmark decisions of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts [such as the decision in Danial Latifi v Union of India (2001)7 SCC 740 which reaffirmed parity in maintenance available to divorced women irrespective of religion and R.R. George Christopher, re (2009)8 MLJ 309 holding that although adoption has not been recognised in India among Christians, this would not stand in the way of the right of a Christian couple to adopt a child under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000] have been considered and commented on.
The instant edition offers a different perspective to the controversial question of the Uniform Civil Code relating to marriages and also demonstrates that many of the existing statutory provisions relating to personal laws are unconstitutional as being gender unjust. New sections have been introduced including those dealing with talak, honour killings, fatwas and secular laws.
This work which is based on the Sir Asutosh Lectures of the Calcutta University, is bound to inspire a rethinking of traditional approaches to personal laws and provides suggestions for future changes in personal laws which are at present the subject matter of serious disagreements and debate.