The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice on a PIL (public interest litigation) seeking a direction to the Centre to draft a Uniform Civil Code in the spirit of Article 14, 15 & 44 of the Constitution.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Rajendra Menon also issued notice to the Law Commission of India on the petition filed by BJP Leader Ashwini Upadhyay. The petitioner has sought a direction to the Union of India to constitute a Judicial Commission or a High Level Expert Committee, to draft a Uniform Civil Code in spirit of Article 44 of the Constitution within three months, while considering the best practices of all religions and sects, civil laws of developed countries and international conventions; and publish it on the website for at least 60 days for extensive public debate and feedback.
In the alternate, the BJP leader sought a direction to Law Commission of India to draft a Uniform Civil Code in spirit of Article 44 of the Constitution within three months.
The petitioner submits that while the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and of religion, it seeks to divest religion from personal law and social relations and from laws governing inheritance, succession and marriage, just as it has been done even in the Muslim countries like Turkey and Egypt etc. The object of Article 44 is not to encroach upon religious liberties guaranteed under Article 25.
According to the petitioner, the diversity in personal matters along with religious differentiation leads to sentimental tension between different communities as has been learnt by bitter experience from the history leading to Partition and subsequent events till today:
“In Sarla Mudgal case [AIR 1995 SC 1531: (1995) 3 SCC 635], while insisting the need for a Common Civil Code, the Apex Court has held that fundamental rights relating to religion of members of any community would not be affected thereby. It was held that personal law having been permitted to operate under authority of legislation the same can be superseded by a uniform civil code. Article 44 is based on the concept that there is no necessary connection between religion and personal law in a civilized Society. Article 25 guarantees religious freedom and Article 44 seeks to divest religion from personal law. Marriage, succession and like matter of secular character cannot be brought under Articles 25-27.”
It is also submitted by the petitioner that the right of equality guaranteed under Article 14, right against non-discrimination guaranteed under Article 15 and right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 can't be secured and Gender Justice and Gender Equality cannot be achieved without implementing the Uniform Civil Code in spirit of Article 44 read with Articles 14, 15, 21.