SC SEEKS CENTRE’S RESPONSE IN PLEA FOR UNIFORM GROUNDS3 min read

BY DRISHTI RATHI




On the 16th December 2020, the Supreme Court finally entertained two Public Interest Litigations seeking uniform laws in divorce, maintenance, and alimony years after the Sarla Mudgal case. The Supreme Court has sought the response of the Center regarding this plea. The various advocates representing the petitioner are Ashwini Kumar, Pinky Anand, and Meenakshi Arora. They gave various reasons as to why there should be an establishment of uniform laws regarding divorce, maintenance, and alimony such as different means for divorce and maintenance is a violation of their right to equality and non-discrimination and also takes a toll on the women’s dignity which is very essential for her survival.

The bench for hearing these pleas consisted of the Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde and other Justices like A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian. They were a little skeptical of establishing a uniform law as it would be an intrusion and interference with their personal laws especially of the religious minorities who are already insecure and sensitive towards these issues and their autonomy. The petitioner side made a strong pitch in this regard. They placed a very strong defense for the doubt of the bench. He stated in the Court of law that when the Court had declared triple talaq unconstitutional, they intruded in their personal laws. They argued that women and gender equality are two sides of the same coin, they cannot be separated and therefore women of different religions cannot have different means of getting a divorce or a different method of being granted maintenance. However, they were not successful in fully persuading the bench as they stated a very brutal fact which is that it is the citizens who discriminate against themselves by using different ways and methods for everything. It is not something that is done by the State on the ground of gender. To this, the petitioner reminded the Court that it was a duty of the State to ensure that dignity and equality of women is assured in their Country.

The Supreme Court then asked for the response of the Center to this plea by stating that this needs to be taken care of with great caution. There are various cases where the Court had made some statements in this regard previously. It had started in the Shah Bano Case that implementation of a common civil code shall be helpful for the national integrity ad also shall help for removing the disloyalties in law. It had been stated in the Sarla Mudgal case that there are 80% people under a codified personal law and therefore there is no justification for a Uniform Civil Code. The petitioner also stated a fact that there are various acts by which different religions in India are governed. All have their own sets of laws but neither of them proves to be gender-neutral and therefore there is a need for the implementation of uniform laws for divorce, maintenance, and alimony.  

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