Government has failed to bring in Uniform Civil Code, says Supreme Court

 thehindu.com  09/13/2019 20:09:34 

The Supreme Court said the nation has still not endeavoured to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code. The government has till date taken no action, a Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose observed in a judgment delivered on Friday.

Justice Gupta, who wrote the 31-page judgment, said the founders of the Constitution had expressed their hope that one day the State would fulfil expectations of a Uniform Civil Code.

Hopes of founders

The founders had penned their hope that a uniform set of rules would replace the distinct personal laws of marriage, divorce, etc. based on customs of each religion.

Whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard, the Supreme Court wrote.

The court said though the Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country.

The judgment said, Despite exhortations of this Court in the case of Shah Bano in 1985, the government has done nothing to bring the Uniform Civil Code...

The Supreme Court hailed the State of Goa as a shining example where uniform civil code applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.

Under this Code practised in Goa, a Muslim man whose marriage is registered in the State cannot practice polygamy, a married couple share property equally, pre-nuptial agreements are the order of the day and assets are divided equally between the man and woman on divorce.

The judgment came in a case concerning the question whether succession and inheritance of a Goan domicile is governed by the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 or the Indian Succession Act of 1925.

Goa was once a Portuguese colony until it was made part of India. Portuguese law, which may have had foreign origin, became a part of the India laws, and in sum and substance, is an Indian law, the court held.

Law panels stand

In 2018, a Law Commission of India consultation paper had however said the Uniform Civil Code is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage in the country. The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.

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