Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 16
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine “with great caution” if there could be uniform grounds for divorce and uniform maintenance and alimony for all citizens, irrespective of the religion they followed.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde issued notice the Centre on two separate PILs filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay — one seeking uniform grounds for divorce and the other demanding uniform maintenance and alimony for all citizens across India — after senior advocates Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora argued that the top court needed to intervene.
“How can we remove discriminatory practices without interfering in personal laws? Are you asking us to abolish personal laws?” asked the CJI at the very outset.
“In Shayara Bano (triple talaq case) you did it. Under Article 142 you had said directions given will exist till law was brought in. You have intervened in the past, Lordships,” Anand pointed out.
As the CJI said the prayer regarding asking the Law Commission to examine it can be considered, Arora said, “For two years we have no one heading the Law Commission. We want a similar relief. If we look at certain provisions of Muslim law, then maintenance can go on only for the period of Biddat. Women are left with nothing.”
“When religious customs violate fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination, the court must step in to protect women’s rights,” she submitted.
The Bench said, “We are issuing notice with great caution.” The issue is likely to trigger a fresh debate on uniform civil code, a BJP poll promise.
Upadhyay’s first PIL sought a direction to the government to take apposite steps to remove anomalies in the grounds of divorce and make them uniform for all citizens without prejudice on the basis of religion, race, cast, sex or place of birth.
He demanded the top court should declare that the discriminatory grounds of divorce violated citizens’ right to equality, right to non-discrimination and right to live with human dignity and go on to frame guidelines for “uniform grounds of divorce” for all citizens.