No immediate plan for Uniform Civil Code, Centre tells Delhi HC

New Delhi: In its first-ever affidavit in a court on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the Centre has submitted before the Delhi High Court that it does not have any immediate plan to implement the measure while emphasising the importance of the subject and sensitivity involved which requires in-depth study of the provisions of various personal laws governing different communities.

In its response to a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upahadhay, the Central government said it has requested the Law Commission to undertake an examination of various issues relating to the Uniform Civil Code and to make recommendations thereof.

The government submitted that the purpose behind the Constitution’s Article 44, seeking a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens, is to strengthen the object of “The Secular Democratic Republic” as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.

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The Uniform Civil Code denotes the field of personal law relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance, custody, and guardianship of children, inheritance and succession, and adoption, it said.

This provision is provided to effect the integration of India by bringing communities on the common platform on matters which are at present governed by diverse personal laws. This article, which divests religion from social relations and personal law, is based on the concept that in matters of inheritance, right to property, maintenance and succession, there will be a common law, it said, adding that citizens belonging to different religions and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws which is an affront to the nation’s unity.

The petitioner referred to the Shah Bano case, contending that a belief seems to have gained that it is for the Muslim community to take a lead in the matter of reforms of their personal law. The common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws, which have conflicting ideologies, the plea said.

In its reply, referring to the Supreme Court verdict in Union of India vs Prakash P Hinduja, the Centre submitted that the apex court held that under our constitutional scheme, the Parliament exercises sovereign power to enact laws and no outside power or authority can issue a direction to enact a particular piece of legislation. It also referred that in Maharishi Avadesh vs Union of India case, the apex court had held that court cannot interfere with or direct the policy of legislature to legislate particular law, to declare Muslim women not enact Shariat Act which adversely affects the rights of Muslim women.

On July 9, 2021, the Delhi High Court had said there is a need for the Uniform Civil Code to become reality so that youth of modern India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes, or religions who solemnise their marriages ought not be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws. Recently, the Allahabad High Court had also asked the Centre to implement the mandate of Article 44.

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