Short Essay on the Codification of Hindu Law

The first step in this direction was taken in 1941, when the Hindu Law Committee was appointed to examine this question. This Committee recommended that Hindu Law should be codified in gradual stages, beginning with the law of marriage and intestate succession.

This Committee unfortunately ceased to function, but was revived in 1944, under the president-ship of Sir B. N. Rau. One of the objects of the Committee was to evolve a uniform code of Hindu Law by blending the most progressive elements from the different schools of Hindu Law. The Committee made its report and presented a draft Code.

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The Hindu Bill (as the draft Code was called) remained on the anvil for a long time, and ultimately it was decided to split it up and pass separate Bills on each part. The first of these saw the light of the day only in May 1955, in the form of the Hindu Marriage Act. This was followed by the Hindu Succession Act in June 1956 (which underwent radical amendents in 2005), the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act in August 1956, and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act in December 1956. (The bare texts of all these four Acts are given at the end of the book.)

These four enactments (and in particular, the 2005 Amendment of the Hindu Succession Act) have, in certain aspects, broken violently with the past, and are characteristic of an age which is one of the great ideals and fast-changing theories. The result of these enactments is a substantial unification of Hindu Law, by incorporating the progressive elements of the different schools, and removing all existing anomalies and incongruencies.

It will be noticed that these four enactments cover some very important aspects of personal law, viz., marriage and divorce, intestate succession, minority, guardianship, adoption and maintenance. In other matters, the old uncodified law continues to apply.