SC closes petitions on Uniform Civil Code, leaves issue for Parliament to consider | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC closes petitions on Uniform Civil Code, leaves issue for Parliament to consider

ByAbraham Thomas
Mar 29, 2023 08:53 PM IST

The petitions were even opposed by the Centre which supported the policy of UCC but held reservations on Courts deciding on this issue when the same fell in the domain of Parliament

The Supreme Court on Wednesday closed petitions demanding for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) observing that such issues are meant for Parliament to decide, and Courts should not be seen as directing the legislature to enact a law.

The batch of petitions were last listed in January. (Representative file image)
The batch of petitions were last listed in January. (Representative file image)

Dealing with a batch of petitions on this issue, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud said, “Entertaining these petitions would mean directing the enactment of law and a mandamus (Latin word for command) cannot be issued to Parliament to enact a law.”

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The petitions were even opposed by the Centre which supported the policy of UCC but held reservations on Courts deciding on this issue when the same fell in the domain of Parliament.

Also Read: No decision on implementing Uniform Civil Code as of now: Kiren Rijiju

“As a matter of policy, Centre does support uniform civil code,” solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the Court, while adding, “Any intervention in this matter has to be only through Parliament.”

Disposing the petition filed in this regard by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the bench, which also comprised justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said, “In substance, the petitioner seeks gender neutral and religion neutral laws in divorce, guardianship, inheritance, maintenance, etc. We are not inclined to entertain this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.”

Upadhyay who appeared in person sought to withdraw the petition after the Court passed the order as one of his prayers in the petition was to refer the matter for consideration by the Law Commission of India. He apprehended that this order will come in the way of the Law Commission to examine the issue.

Rejecting this demand as well, the order said, “We see no reason to also ask the matter to be considered by the Law Commission as it would aid in legislation.”

The Law Commission is a non-statutory body that undertakes study on changes required in law and recommends to the government for introducing any fresh legislation.

The bench clarified, “We have not gone into merits. We feel Court is the incorrect forum and Parliament alone can effectuate this.”

The batch of petitions were last listed in January when the Court had posed its concern to the petitioners over directing Parliament to enact a law.

The Muslim bodies such as Muslim Personal Law Board had also intervened in the proceedings by pointing out that Upadhyay had not approached the Court with clean hands as he had initially filed a petition before the top court seeking similar relief which was withdrawn before the present petition was filed in 2020.

The Board had objected to Upadhyay seeking enforcement of UCC in a plea filed before the Delhi high court which is still pending. This fact was not disclosed in the present petition by Upadhyay, the board added.

Upadhyay informed the Court that some of the persons affected by different forms of divorce under the Muslim personal law had also filed petitions which raised different prayers.

Since these pleas formed part of the batch of petitions disposed by Court, he requested the petitions by the affected to remain on board.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi along with advocate MR Shamshad appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board informed the Court that earlier, these petitions were tagged at the instance of Upadhyay stating that all petitions are similar and now he suggests they are different.

In September, the top court had sought a comprehensive response from the Centre on the issues raised in Upadhyay’s petition. The Court had then stated, “These petitions are seeking common marriage, divorce, adoption, succession, and maintenance laws. They are all facets of Uniform Civil Code. Let a comprehensive response be filed indicating the stand of the Union government in respect of issues raised in this batch of petitions.”

In October, the union law ministry filed its response stating that the Court cannot direct Parliament whether to enact or not to enact a particular law.

The Centre said the issue on UCC was under consideration of the Law Commission and as and when a report is received, the government will examine the same in consultation with various stakeholders.

Upadhyay while seeking enforcement of UCC pointed out the variance of laws applicable to different religions on the issue of marriage, divorce, adoption, maintenance and guardianship.

For instance, he pointed out that adultery is a ground of divorce for Hindus, Christians and Parsis but not for Muslims.

Similarly, impotency is a ground of divorce for Hindus and Muslims but not among Christians and Parsis.

Similarly, under age marriage is a ground of divorce for Hindus but not for Christians, Parsis and Muslims, the petition said.

Similar discrepancies in laws with regard to adoption, inheritance and maintenance were raised by Upadhyay who sought a direction to create uniform laws based on gender justice and equality for all citizens.

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