Laws in Different Districts of India That Affects the Status of Women

After the merger with India the categories of laws applicable increased and consequently the applicability of the Hindu Law became complicated. David Annoussamy categorizes the application of Hindu Law thus:

A. Hindu Law prevailing in India applicable to migrants from the rest of India.

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B. Hindu Law applicable to Hindus of Pondicherrian origin consisting of Indian statutes Applicable to Hindus.

C. Hindu Law consisting solely of the Hindu local customs adhered to by Hindus who remained French nationals.

D. Hindu Law consisting of customs of Pondicherry except in matters of marriage and divorce. This category has been further subdivided into two groups, viz:

1. Indian Christians who are governed according to their choice in respect of marriage either by the French Civil Code or the Indian Christian Marriage Act and the Indian Divorce Act, and

2. Indian Christians who are exclusively governed by the French Civil Code.

B. Laws in Go a, Daman and Diu

Even though these territories are now a part of India, no effort has far been made to extend the Hindu Marriage Act to them the result is that a section of Hindus today continues to be governed by a law which permits polygamy.

1. Districts of Goa and Diu:

In the districts of Goa, polygamy is permissible among Hindus under the following circumstances:

(i) When the previous wife is childless up to the age of 25 years;

(ii) When there is no male issue from the previous wife till her 30th year or when the previous wife who is below 30 does not conceive for ten years after her past conception;

(iii) In cases of judicial separation by wife and when there is no male issue.

2. District of Daman:

According to the Code of Customs and Usage of Non- Christian inhabitants of Daman, the male individuals are allowed to have many wives but Bramos of Modd Caste cannot have more than two wives.

However, there is no polygamy among Dhobis, Morai- Machines, Barbers, Capris, Salvia, Betelas, Porobias and Bramos except those belonging to Teloquia and Modd caste consent of all of them is required which shall be drawn by the ‘Chief of Rancho’ or by the Notary Public in the Presence of four witnesses).

Judicial justification of any of the circumstances mentioned above is a condition precedent for polygamy.

In our opinion, the continuation of such diverse Laws contradictory to our social policy, in these territories is totally unjustified. We recommend therefore, the immediate replacement of these laws by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

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