The Supreme Court on Monday refused to impose a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for all citizens across the country, leaving it for Parliament to decide on instead.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said, “Let Parliament take a view on it,” while hearing a PIL filed byAdvocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
“It was almost impossible to secure ‘Justice, social, economic and political; and equality of status and of opportunity; to all Indian citizens’ as set out in the preamble without a Uniform Civil Code,” Upadhyay said, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
He also termed the personal laws as “unjust, unfair, inhumane, discriminatory and unconstitutional,” and asked, “Can we allow social evils like polygamy and child marriage…in 21st century in the garb of personal laws?”
But Chief Justice Thakur disagreed and said that none of the victims came before court.
Thakur told senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, "What cannot be done directly, you are trying to do indirectly... We cannot ask the parliament to bring the common civil code... tell us first, has anybody come from the community you are alleging discrimination? If an aggrieved Muslim had come, we would have still considered her case... but we cannot examine this on the basis of a PIL."
However, this is not the first time that the UCC is being discussed.
Although, Hindu family laws were last modified in the 1950s, Christians and Muslims laws remain unchanged from those under British rule.
According to activists and lawyers, Muslim personal law contains provisions which are biased against Muslim women as polygamy and the triple talaq system are legal.
Previously, then CJI YV Chandrachud had said, “A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law which having conflicting ideologies,” in 1985 when the apex court awarded maintenance to a 60-year-old divorced Muslim woman.
The former Congress government reversed the decision to impose a UCC after opposition from All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, an NGO lobbying for Sharia law in personal matter.
Recently On October 12, the issue again came into prominence when Justice Vikramjit Sen asked the government to decide on UCC while hearing a PIL filed by a Delhi man who wanted a waiver on the two-year mandatory separation period for divorce.
Other religions have a one year separation period for divorce.
Incidentally, the Kerala and Karnataka high courts had declared these provisions unconstitutional.