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Panel looks at reforms in Muslim family law

The Law Commission considers a set of proposals for reforms relating to Muslims in the field of family law, reports Satya Prakash.
Hindustan Times | By Satya Prakash
UPDATED ON JUN 16, 2008 11:48 PM IST

The Law Commission is considering a set of proposals for reforms relating to Muslims in the field of family law.

The most important of these relate to streamlining the extent and application of Muslim law to all Muslims throughout the country in place of the diverse laws that are currently in place.

There were separate laws enacted during British Rule for various sects of Muslims, such as like Memons in western India and Moplahs in the south, besides the Shariat Application Act, 1937, which is the main law. “But no such law has been enacted by the Central government after independence,” Law Commission member Tahir Mahmood, who has prepared the proposals told HT.

The southern states have carried out amendments to the Shariat Act and the scope of Muslim Law is much wider there than in north India, he said.

Another proposal recommends that “prohibited degrees in marriage” need not be specified in the law of civil marriages and should instead be left to be determined by the law otherwise applicable to the parties.

At present, like Hindu law the civil marriage law prohibits marriage between cousins, which was a major hurdle for Muslims opting for a civil marriage since marrying cousins was very common in the community.

This proposal suggested that succession to property in a civil marriage among Muslims should be regulated by Muslim law and not by the Indian Succession Act of 1925. Such a measure had already been adopted in 1976 for Hindus on the then Law Commission’s recommendation.

“If these proposals are finally adopted by the commission, it will be for the first time in its 53-year-old history that the Law Commission will be recommending measures specific to Muslims,” said Mahmood.

The panel is also considering a proposal relating to enactment of a central law requiring compulsory registration of all marriages in the country, irrespective of which substantive law governs them.

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