Reunite International
Reunite International Homepage


The Indian legal system has its basis in English common law, while personal status law is administered according to the various religious traditions in India.  Although India is a majority Hindu State it also has a significant Muslim minority.  The majority of these Muslims follow the Hanafi School of law, although there are also other Sunni groups and Shia Muslim communities in India.  India also has Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian and Jewish minorities.  Due to this diversity each group is protective of their personal status laws and for this reason India has been unable to enact a uniform personal status code, despite the commitment of Article 44 of the Constitution to work towards legal uniformity. The form of marriage undertaken by a couple determines the substantive law applied to them and their children in matters of personal status. Marriages between persons of the same religion are governed by their respective laws.  Where the marriage is solemnized between persons belonging to different religions the personal laws are governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

The primary sources of law include acts passed by the Parliament or the State Legislatures. A secondary source of law is the judgments of the Supreme Court and High Court.  According to the Indian Constitution of 1950 (as amended) the laws declared by the Supreme Court are binding on all courts within India, although the Supreme Court is not bound by its own decisions.

Available Information

reunite’s Summary text for India

Legal Texts

•    Constitution 1950

•    Hindu Marriage Act 1955

•    Muslim Personal Law Application Act 1937

•    Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872

•    Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1866

•    The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986

•    The Special Marriage Act 1954

•    The Indian Matrimonial Causes (War Marriages Act) 1948

•    The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929

•    The Married Women’s Property Act 1874

•    Family Courts Act 1984

•    Guardians and Wards Act 1890

•    Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956

•    Indian Succession Act 1925

•    Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

•    Indian Divorce Act 1869

•    Arya Marriage Validation Act 1937

•    Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936

•    The National Committee for Children Bill 2001

•    Hindu Marriage Validation Act 1960

•    Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act No. 32 of 1956

•    Foreign Marriages Act No.33 of 1969

•    Converts’ Marriage and Dissolution Act no. 21 of 1866

•    The Passport Act No.15 of 1967

•    The Citizenship Act No.57 of 1955

•    Penal Code 1860 (extract)

•    Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (extract)


•    Convention on the Rights of the Child Report 2001


•    Kid Gloves Off, Anil & Ranjit Malhotra, 2004

•    Extract from, Acting for Non-Resident Indian Clients, A & R Malhotra and Re De Mello, Family Law, Jordans, Bristol, 2002.

•    Educating British Asians on Indian Laws, The Tribune, 23/12/2004

•    NRIs Trip on Resident Laws, The Economic Times, 3/1/2005

•    Family Law Summary (Emory)