HC Bats for Uniform Code for Marriage, Succession

The Delhi High Court underscored the need for India to have a common code for all in matters of marriage, divorce and succession, so that individuals belonging to different castes, tribes and religions do not suffer due to contradictions in various personal laws.

The modern Indian society is gradually becoming homogenous and the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating, Justice Pratibha Maninder Singh said in his judgement overturning the decision of a family court in a divorce case. The youth of India ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws, especially in relation to marriage and divorce, the judge said.

The high court order that echoed the findings of the Supreme Court in several judgements including in the 1985 ‘Shah Bano Begum’ case, also referred to Article 44 of the Constitution which stipulates that the state shall secure for its citizens a "uniform civil code". The court sent a copy of the judgement, passed earlier this week, to the union law ministry for “appropriate action as deemed appropriate”.

The judgement was passed on a petition filed by a man belonging to the Meena tribe. The family court had dismissed his divorce petition holding that the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act did not apply to his marriage since both husband and wife belonged to a notified scheduled tribe. But the high court allowed the divorce, as the two had entered into marriage under customs followed by Hindus.

“Cases like the present one repeatedly highlight the need for such a code — ‘common to all’, 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 judge said in the order.

Referring to the 1985 SC judgement underscoring the need for a uniform civil code, the high court said, “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”.

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