Supreme Court tells govt to enact one secular law for all communities

Uniform civil code debate gets fresh life as court seeks govt response on Christian divorce law provisions

GN Bureau | May 12, 2015


#supreme court   #uniform civil code   #secular law   #Christians  

Laws of land should make conduct of social life simple and act as deterrent. But India never has been a easy country in terms of rule of law. We are governed by laws that overlap in jurisdiction and many a times contradictory. Even the supreme court has expressed its helplessness.

On Monday the court asked the government to enact one secular law that should be made applicable to all people cutting across communities and religions. In effect the SC seems to suggest uniform civil code in India.

A bench of Justices Vikramajit Sen and Abhay Manohar Sapre raised questions as to why there were different laws for different communities for governing matrimonial issues. The court then asked the Centre why it was reluctant to bring uniformity in laws.

“One secular law should be made applicable across the board regardless of communities and religions affiliation of a person. It should be applicable all over the country. You should yourself spring up and tell the court that you would do it. Why are you contesting on the issue?” the bench asked the Centre which sought more time to take a stand.

The court has been saying that the law should not be compelled to recognize personal law in civil and family matters like divorce, marriage and adoption. It had said religion must be stamped out of civil matters.

The SC is examining the validity of a 146-year old provision that says divorce can't be granted to Christian couples on mutual consent if they were not living separately for at least two years. It said Christian divorce law provision making separation for two years mandatory for any couple to get divorce under mutual consent should be done away with and the period must be reduced to one year as applicable to couples of other communities.

The uniform civil code has been a key element in the BJP election manifesto. It says that that there cannot be equality for women till such time that a common civil code is adopted to protect the rights of India's women.

The BJP says it would accord top priority to drafting such a code which would 'draw upon the best traditions of (Indian culture) and harmonise them with times.'

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