1. Who is Hindu as per Hindu Marriage Act, 1955? Explain.

2. What is the concept of Hindu Law? Point out the position of Hindu Law in Modern Times.

3. Who is a Hindu? Define and explain the position under Modern Hindu law

4. Define the term Hindu. Can a person be a Hindu by conversion or Reconversion




Who are Hindus?

There is no precise definition of term “Hindu” available either in any statute or in any judicial decision. However, since Hindu law applies to all those are Hindus, It is necessary to know who are Hindus. The answer lies in question: to whom does Hindu law apply? The persons to whom Hindu law applies may be put in the following three categories:

  • Any person who is Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist by religion i.e. Hindu by religion.
  • Any person who is born of Hindu parents (both or even one of the parties) i.e. Hindus by birth.
  • Any person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew and who is not governed by any other law.

    The term ‘Hindus’ denotes all those persons who profess Hindu religion either by birth from Hindu parents or by conversion to Hindu faith. In Yagnapurus dasji v. Muldas [AIR 1966 SC 1119], the Supreme Court accepted the working formula evolved by Tilak regarding Hindu religion that ‘acceptance of vedas’ with reverence, recognition of the fact that the number of Gods to be worshiped at large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion.


    In Shastri v Muldas SC AIR 1961, SC has held that various sub sects of Hindus such as Swaminarayan, Satsangis, Arya Samajis are also Hindus by religion because they follow the same basic concept of Hindu Philosophy. Converts and Reconverts are also Hindus. If only one parent is a Hindu, the person can be a Hindu if he/she has been raised as a Hindu. In Sapna vs State of kerala, Kerala HC, the son of Hindu father and Christian mother was held to be a Christian


    Presumption of Section 2 (1)(C) This provision raise a presumption that a person who is not known to be a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew shall be considered to be a Hindu for the purpose of this Act. But it is a rebuttable presumption as contemplated in section 2 (1)(c) itself. A person who does not know the religion to which he belongs but it brought up in India as Hindu will be governed by this Act.


    Hindus by Birth

    Under Modern Hindu law, a person will be a Hindu by birth if:

  • Both of his parents are Hindu, or
  • One of the parents is a Hindu and he is brought up as a Hindu.

    Such child is Hindu irrespective of fact he/she is legitimate or illegitimate. In case after the birth of the child both or one of the parents convert to another religion, the child will continue to be a Hindu unless, in the exercise of their parental right, they also convert the child into the religion in which either or both of the parents have converted.

    Time for determination of Religion

  • Where both the parents are Hindu, the time for determination of the religion of the child is the time of its birth.
  • Where only the parents is a Hindu, the time for determination of the religion of the child is not the time of birth but it is determined by how he is brought up. Thus, the determination of religion is dependent on two factors, whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate, viz.,
  • (a) One of the parents is a Hindu, and

    (b) The child is being brought up as a part of Hindu parent’s Community.


    A relevant judgment in this context is Maneka Gandhi’s Case (Air 1984 Del 428), wherein the Honorable Court held that Sanjay Gandhi was a Hindu because:

    (a) one of the parents, namely his mother was a Hindu and

    (b) he was openly brought up as a Hindu.


    Hindus by Religion

    This category includes two types of persons:

    (a)Those who are originally Hindus, Jain, Sikhs, Buddhist by religion.

    The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Chandarsekhar v.Kulandaivela (AIR, 1963, SC185): Any person who is Hindu, Jain, Buddhist or Sikh by a religion is a Hindu if:

    (i) he practices, professes or follows any of these religions, and

    (ii) He remains a Hindu even if he does not practice, profess or follow the tenets of any one of these religions.


    Thus a person does not cease to be a Hindu if he becomes an atheist, or dissents or deviates from the central doctrines of Hinduism, or lapses from orthodox practices, or adopts western way of life, or eats beef.

    (b) Those who are converts or reconverts to Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist religion.

    A person who ceases to be a Hindu by converting to a non-Hindu religion will again become Hindu if he reconverts to any of the four religions of Hindus.


    A non-Hindu will become a Hindu by conversion:

    (1) If he undergoes a formal ceremony of conversion or reconversion prescribe by the caste or community to which he converts; or

    (2) If he expresses a bona fide intention to become Hindu accompanied by conduct unequivocally expressing that intension coupled with the acceptance of him as a member of the community into the fold of which he was ushered into (Perumal v. Poonuswami AIR 1971 SC 1352)


    Further when a person declares that he is a follower of Hindu faith and if such a declaration is bona fide and not made with any ulterior motive or intension, it amounts to his having accepted the Hindu approach to God. He become a Hindu by conversion (Mohandas v. Deaswon Board, 1975 K.L.T. 55.) Scheduled Tribes [Section 2(2)]


    Section 2(2) excludes the application of this Act to the Scheduled Tribes. It provides that nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribes (even if they are Hindus) unless the Central Government by Notification in the Official Gazette, otherwise directs. Most of the Scheduled Tribes are still governed by customs.


    To whom Hindu Law apply

    1. Hindus by birth

    2. Off shoots of Hinduism

    3. Persons who are not Muslims, Christians, Parsis or Jews

    4. Converts to Hinduism

    5. Reconverts to Hinduism

    6. Harijans

    7. Aboriginal Tribes


    To whom Hindu law does not apply

  • to converts from the Hindu to the Mohammedan faith
  • to the Hindu converts to Christianity
  • to the illegitimate children of a Hindu father by Christian mother and who are brought up as Christians

    Constitution of India and the Enactments under the Hindu Law Presently, Hindu Law is applied through the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; the Hindu Succession Act, 1956; the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956; and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956


    Constitutional enactments are:

  • Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act, 1937
  • Hindu Succession Act, 1956

    Impact of Hindu Law Enactments in Fundamental Rights Several principles of Hindu Law have been held invalid on the ground that they infringe the Fundamental Rights. For example, the rule of Damdupat is hit by Article 15(1) of the Constitution and as such would be void under Article 13(1).




    1. A person may be a Hindu by ………..

    (a) Birth

    (b) Conversion

    (c) Both (a) and (b)

    (d) None of the above


    2. A mere theoretical allegiance to the Hindu faith by a person born in another faith ………. convert him into a Hindu.

    (a) Does

    (b) Does not

    (c) May

    (d) None of the above


    3. A bare declaration that one is a Hindu ………. sufficient to convert him to Hinduism.

    (a) Is

    (b) Is not

    (c) May be

    (d) None of the above


    4. Hindus are categorized into ………..

    (a) Brahmins

    (b) Kshatriyas

    (c) Vaishyas

    (d) Shudras

    (e) All of the above


    5. In which of the following cases did the Supreme Court observe as follows: ‘Unilateral act of one party cannot be easily taken to prove that the claim for the higher status which particular acts reports to make is established and hence a person belonging to a scheduled caste cannot, by the mere act of becoming an offer in the army, be raised to the status of Kshatriya.’

    (a) S P Mittal v Union of India

    (b) V V Giri v Shri Dora

    (c) Jaya Lekshmi v T Prakash Rao

    (d) Both (a) and (b)


    6. What the Court is really concerned with is the determination of the social and political consequences of a conversion, if it can be said that a conversion takes place when a person born in a particular caste becomes an Arya Samajist’. This was held in

    (a) V V Giri v Shri Dora

    (b) Jaya Lekshmi v T Prakash Rao

    (c) B Shyamsunder v Shankar Deo Vedalankar

    (d) None of the above


    7. While determining social and political consequences of a conversion, the question must be decided with common sense and a practical way, rather than on theoretical and theoretical grounds.’ This was held in

    (a) Perumal Nadar v Ponu Swami

    (b) Jaya Lekshmi v T Prakash Rao

    (c) Raman Nadar v Snehapoo

    (d) None of the above


    8. In which case did the Supreme Court hold as follows: ‘Hinduism is a way of life in the subcontinent. It is not limited to narrow limits of religion?

    (a) V V Giri v Shri Dora

    (b) Jaya Lekshmi v T Prakash Rao

    (c) Ramesh Yeshwant Prabho v Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte

    (d) None of the above


    9. Hinduism embraces within itself so many diverse forms of beliefs, faiths, practices and worship that it is difficult to define the term “Hindu” with precision. There is very little common in the diverse forms of beliefs except a vague faith in what may be called the fundamental of Hindu religion.’ This was held in ……………

    (a) VV Giri v Shri Dora

    (b) Jaya Lekshmi v T Prakash Rao

    (c) CWT v R Shridharan

    (d) None of the above


    10. Any child legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu by religion and who is brought up as a Hindu is a” Hindu.’ This was held by the Supreme Court in ………….

    (a) V V Giri v Shri Dora

    (b) Jaya Lekshmi v T Prakash Rao

    (c) C W T v R Shridharan

    (d) Both (a) and (b)

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