The Supreme Court , while agreeing to hear a plea seeking uniform grounds of divorce, maintenance and alimony across religious communities, stated that mandating such uniformity could raise pertinent issues about which uniform religious ground are to be applied across all religious communities.
The Apex court also sought Central government’s response on the two petitions on the same issue.
Senior advocates Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora argued for the PILs filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.
The petitioner said long back the Supreme Court had impressed upon the government to strive for bringing in the Uniform Civil Code, but nothing has happened so far.
Anand and Arora said that the court must step in to protect women’s rights. “Religions may be treating women differently as per the personal law sanctions but when religious customs violate the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination, the court must step in to protect women’s rights,” they said.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde observed that entertaining the petitions asking for uniform grounds of divorce would amount to nullifying personal laws in this regard. “
You want personal laws to be abolished. You are not saying it but that is what will have to be effectively done. How can we encroach upon personal laws,” CJI Bobde asked the petitioners.
The Plea for uniform grounds of divorce stated,
Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains have to seek divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Muslim, Christian, and Parsis have their own personal laws. Couple belonging to different religions have to seek divorce under the Special Marriage Act, 1956.
“The grounds of divorce are neither gender-neutral nor religion-neutral”.Plea stated
The rules governing Muslim community with regard to maintenance and alimony was pointed out to highlight discrimination faced by Muslim women in the issue. To this CJI asked,
“Problem then is which practice will you adopt across the board? How will you decide whether to adopt Hindu, Christian or Islam”
The Court issued a notice with “caution” and said “We will issue notice but with caution.”