Centre files affidavit on Uniform Civil Code in SC, says different religions following different laws affronting national unity

The government said the power to make laws is exclusively that of the legislature

October 18, 2022 06:34 pm | Updated 06:34 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File image.

File image. | Photo Credit: PTI

Citizens belonging to different religions and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws which is an "affront to the nation's unity". Article 44 (Uniform Civil Code) divests religion from social relations and personal law, the government has maintained in the Supreme Court.

The preliminary submissions are part of recent affidavits filed by the Union Law Ministry to petitions, which was filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking directions from the apex court to the government to remove "anomalies" and frame uniform divorce law and uniform guidelines for adoption and guardianship of children.

The government said the power to make laws is exclusively that of the legislature. The court cannot give a “mandamus to Parliament to make certain laws”.

"This is a matter of policy for the elected representatives of the people to decide and no direction in this regard can be issued by the court. It is for the legislature to enact or not enact a piece of legislation," the Ministry said. It added Mr. Upadhyay’s petition was not maintainable.

The Ministry said it had requested the Law Commission to examine "various issues relating to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)" and make recommendations considering the sensitivity and in-depth study involved of various personal laws governing different communities.

The 21st Law Commission had uploaded a consultation paper titled 'Reform of Family Law subsequently in August 2018. But the term of the 21st Law Commission had come to an end on August 31, 2018.

"The subject matter will be placed before the 22nd Law Commission for its consideration when the Chairman and Members of the Commission are appointed. As and when the report of the Law Commission in the matter is received, the government would examine the same in consultation with the various stakeholders involved," the Law Ministry said.

Though the 22nd Law Commission was constituted way back in 2020, the chairperson has not been appointed so far.

Elaborating on the common civil code, the government said the Directive Principles of State Policy "creates an obligation upon the state to endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country under Article 44 [of the Constitution]".

It said the expression 'Uniform Civil Code' denotes the fields of personal law relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance, custody and guardianship of children, inheritance and succession and adoption.

The Ministry said the purpose of Article 44 was to strengthen the object of the 'Secular Democratic Republic' enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.

"This provision is provided to effect integration of India by bringing communities on the common platform on matters which are at present governed by diverse personal laws," the affidavit said.

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