The Delhi High Court has backed the need for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India and asked the Centre to take the necessary steps in this matter.
The High Court in its judgement said that the need for a Uniform Civil Code, as envisioned under Article 44, has been reiterated from time to time by the Supreme Court. Cases like the present one repeatedly highlight the need for such a Code, which would enable uniform principles being applied in respect of aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession, etc, so that settled principles, safeguards and procedures can be laid down and citizens are not made to struggle due to the conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws, the court said.
The judgement was passed by Justice Prathiba M. Singh on 7 July on a plea involving the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in respect of parties belonging to the Meena community.
The Delhi HC further stated that in modern Indian society which is gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating. “The youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes, or religions who solemnise their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws,” Justice Singh said, adding, “especially in relation to marriage and divorce”.
The hope expressed in Article 44 of the Constitution that the state shall secure for its citizens Uniform Civil Code ought not to remain a mere hope, the court said.
The Supreme Court had, in 1985 directed that the judgement in Ms Jordon Diengdeh (supra) be placed before the Ministry of Law to take appropriate steps. However, more than three decades have passed since then and it is unclear as to what steps have been taken in this regard till date, the court added.
The Supreme Court had in March last year sought a reply from the Centre over religion-neutral inheritance and succession laws in India. A lawyer at the top court and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ashwini Upadhyay, succeeded in getting five such petitions admitted by the apex court, a development that could be seen as a precursor to the Uniform Civil Code in the country.