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SC Seeks Centre’s Response On Uniform Grounds For Divorce, Alimony Regardless Of Religion

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The Supreme Court of India issued a notice to the Centre on Wednesday, seeking its response to petitions pursuing uniform grounds for divorce, alimony, and maintenance for all citizens of the country. Reports suggest that the apex court’s notice comes following two public interest litigations (PILs) filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which mentioned people seeking divorce must be protected by a standard law that would not discriminate as per religion or gender.

The bench comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, headed by Chief Justice of India S Bobde, brought up the issue of “personal laws” in the regard to the petitions. Bar and Bench quoted Bobde saying, “You want personal laws to be abolished. You are not saying it but that is what will have to be effectively done. How can we encroach upon personal laws?” The court has reportedly issued the notice “with caution.”

Also Read: Supreme Court Declares Deserted Wife And Children Entitled To Alimony From Date of Application: Report

About The Petitions Filed For Uniform Divorce Grounds

Both the controversial petitions seeking “divorce, maintenance and alimony” on uniform grounds across religions and gender were filed by Upadhyay, who was represented in court by advocates Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora. According to Hindustan Times, Anand argued for uniform divorce, while Arora argued in favour of alimony and maintenance.

The petition reportedly stated, “Grounds of divorce are neither gender neutral nor religion neutral. For example, adultery is a ground of divorce for Hindus, Christians and Parsis but not for Muslims… Impotency is a ground of divorce for Hindus-Muslims but not for Christian-Parsis.”

Putting forward the argument that there are “certain rights and dignity under the Constitution,” Arora said, “If a religious practice is violating such fundamental rights, then State has to step in.” The lawyers also reportedly brought attention to the Triple Talaq law in Islam, which was deemed unconstitutional in 2017.

Also Read: SC Rejects AAP’s Plea Against Devangana Kalita’s Bail Order In North-East Delhi Riots Case

Why The Petitions Are Controversial

The petitions have raised questions around the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code, which is part of the ruling party’s manifesto. A contentious proposal, it is believed that the imposition of a uniform code in a country like India, where multiple religions and cultures co-exist, would be an encroachment upon personal liberties. Bobde reportedly questioned Upadhyay’s petition, asking, “Problem then is which practice will you adopt across the board? How will you decide whether to adopt Hindu, Christian or Islam?”

India’s marriage laws require Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains to seek divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, whereas Muslims, Parsis, and Christians seek divorce under their personal, religious laws.