Personal Laws are a set of laws that regulate and control relationships between two people or more people as a result of certain factors. The factors include marriage, affinity, and blood. Personal Laws govern and regulate matters or aspects of the personal sphere including marriage, divorce, maintenance, succession, minority, guardianship, etc. 

            (Source – chambersofsalmankhurshid)

Based on religion, belief, and culture, personal rules may apply to a certain class of people, group of people, or individual. These can be categorised under "family law" in broad. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Parsis are currently all subject to their respective sets of personal laws in India. Personal rules, including those governing marriage, have been codified in a variety of laws that are applicable to followers of many religions.

Some of other key Personal Laws in India:

  1. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  2. The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872
  3. Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936
  4. Muslim Marriage law in India
  5. The Hindu Succession Act
Personal Laws varies from country to country and may also be influences by cultural or religious traditions. In many countries personal law is governed by civil law codes, while in others, it may be based on religious texts or customary practices. For Example, in the US, personal law is generally governed by state laws, which vary from state to state.

Evolution of Personal Laws:

1) Ancient Period:
  • Hindu Law- The ancient legal system in India was primarily based on HIndu religious texts and customs such as Manusmriti and Dharmashastra. These texts provided guidelines on various personal matters, including marriage, property and inheritance.
  • Islamic Law- With the advent of Islam in India, Islamic personal laws came into practice. These laws were derived from the Quran, Hadiths (sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad), and legal opinion of Islamic scholars.
2) British Colonial Period (18th-20th centuries):
  • East India Company- During the early colonial period, the British East India Company recognised and respected the existing personal laws of various communities. They established courts to administer justice based on religious laws, which were known as "personal laws."
  • Codification- In the 19th century the British colonial government sought to consolidate and codify various personal laws to create a uniform legal system. They introduced acts such as Hindu Marriage Act (1829), Hindu Widow Remarraige Act (1856) and the Indian Divorce Act (1869).
3) Post- Independence Era (1947):
  • Constitution of India- After India gained Independence in 1947, the framers of the Indian Constitution recognized the importance of personal laws and allowed communities to govern their personal affairs. The Constitution guaranteed the right to religion and grants religious and cultural communities the freedom to manage their affairs.
  • Hindu Code Bills- In the 1950s, the Indian Government introduced the Hindu Code Bills, which aimed to reform and modernise Hindu Personal laws. These bills sought to abolish discriminatory practices against women, such as polygamy and unequal inheritance rights. The Hindu Marriage Act (1955) and the Hindu Succession Act (1956) were some of the key legislations enacted under these reforms.
  • Muslim Personal Laws- Unlike Hindu personal laws were not codified or reformed to the same extent. Muslim personal laws continued to be governed by Islamic jurisprudence, including practices like polygamy and triple talaq (instant divorce). However, certain reforms have been introduced over the years, such as banning instant triple talaq in 2019.