Critically discuss the personal laws as a major social constraint in bringing about gender equality in Indian Society.
Though the constitution of India assures equality, the personal laws of nearly all religions in India have discriminated against women and have proved to be a social constraint in bringing about gender equality in Indian Society.The discrimination is more apparent in inheritance laws, divorce and maintenance laws.
For example, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 gave inheritance rights to both men and women but it did not give women a birthright in ancestral property. Under the Mitakshara school of law, when a male member of the family died, the share in the family property went to male survivors (son, grandson), while his daughters and wife got part of his personal share. In exercise, the females continued to have little entrance to land and property. In 2005, the ‘coparcenary’ right was extended to married daughters as well bt then this is available to Hindu females. The Muslims and Christian laws do not give equivalent position to females. This apart, the religious personal laws give birth to many practices that promote gender equality for instance, early marriage, dowry, domestic violence etc. In Muslim personal laws, triple talaq, which has been quashed by SC for now was highly discriminatory. If the personal law of inheritance, succession, etc. is considered as a part of religion, the equality of women can never be achieved. For providing social justice to women, the most important step has been codification of some of the personal laws in our country which pose the biggest challenge as in the matter of personal law there are certain spheres where there is violation of Article 21.