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Different laws an affront to nation’s unity: Centre pitches Uniform Civil Code to Supreme Court

The Centre said this in its response to petitions filed in the apex court seeking uniformity in laws governing matters of divorce, succession and inheritance and adoption and guardianship for all, irrespective of gender and religion.

The government, however, said that no direction can be issued to the Legislature to enact a particular legislation. (File Photo)

Underlining that the Constitution obligates the State to have a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for its citizens, and that people belonging to different religions and denominations following different property and matrimonial laws is an “affront to the nation’s unity”, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that the matter will now be placed before the 22nd Law Commission.

The Centre said this in its response to petitions filed in the apex court seeking uniformity in laws governing matters of divorce, succession and inheritance and adoption and guardianship for all, irrespective of gender and religion.

The government said that “Part IV of the Constitution of India is related to Directive Principles of State Policy and creates an obligation upon the State to endeavour to secure for citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the country under its Article 44”.

In its response, filed on October 13, the Centre pointed out that the expression 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 submitted that the purpose behind Article 44 is to strengthen the object of “Secular Democratic Republic, as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution”.

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The government stated in its response: “This provision is provided to effect integration of India by bringing communities on the common platform on matters which are at present governed by diverse personal laws. This Article [44] is based on the concept that in matters of inheritance, right to property, maintenance and succession, there will be a common law. Article 44 divests religion from social relations and personal law.”

It said, “Citizens belonging to different religions and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws, which is an affront to the nation’s unity.”

The Centre said that “in view of the importance of the subject matter and sensitivity involved, which requires in-depth study of the provisions of various personal laws governing different communities”, it had requested the Law Commission of India to “undertake examination of various issues relating to Uniform Civil Code and to make recommendations thereof.”

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Following this, the 21st Law Commission examined various aspects of the matter, accepted representation from various stakeholders, and after detailed research on it, uploaded a consultation paper titled ‘Reform of family law’ on its website on August 31, 2018 “for wider deliberation/discussions”.

However, the the 21st Commission’s term ended on August 31, 2018 and the 22nd Commission was constituted, the government’s response noted. It pointed out that the “subject matter will be placed before the 22nd Law Commission for its consideration when chairman and members of the Commission are appointed”. It also said that once the Commission submits its report, the government would examine it “in consultation” with various stakeholders involved in the matter.

The government, however, said that no direction can be issued to the Legislature to enact a particular legislation. “This is a matter of policy for the elected representatives of the people to decide…. It is for the Legislature to enact or not to enact a legislation,” the reply affidavit said and sought dismissal of petitions filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

First published on: 19-10-2022 at 04:55 IST
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