November 30, 2021

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Uniform civil code a necessity; cannot be made voluntary: Allahabad HC

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Uniform civil code a necessity; cannot be made voluntary: Allahabad HC
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Uniform civil code a necessity; cannot be made voluntary: Allahabad HC
Uniform civil code a necessity; cannot be made voluntary: Allahabad HC

PRAYAGRAJ: Dealing with a batch of 17 petitions pertaining to interfaith marriage contracted by the petitioners and seeking protection from the court, the Allahabad high court on Thursday called upon the Central government to consider setting up a panel for implementing the mandate of Article 44, which says that the “State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.”
The court also directed marriage registrar/officer of petitioners’ districts to forthwith register the marriage of the petitioners without insisting/awaiting approval of the competent district authority with regard to conversion of faith.
Justice Suneet Kumar, who passed the order while allowing the petitions filed by one Mayra alias Vaishnavi and 16 others pertaining to interfaith marriage contracted by the petitioners, further called upon the Union government to initiate the process as the stage has been reached.
“The uniform civil code (UCC) is a necessity and mandatorily required today. It cannot be made purely voluntary as was observed by Dr BR Ambedkar 75 years back, in view of the apprehension and fear expressed by the members of the minority community. The stage has reached that Parliament should intervene and examine as to whether the country requires multiplicity of marriage and registration laws or the parties to a marriage should be brought under the umbrella of single Family Code,” the court observed.
“Marriage is just an association of two persons, recognized by law,” the court further added.
The court, in an attempt to envisage the possible effect of uniform civil code (UCC) on the Indian population if implemented, referred to the Hindu Family Code (HFC), which in the court’s opinion, acted as uniform civil code and integrated the citizens into an integrated and united Indian citizenry, on terms that is equal and uniform, in so far as the law regulating family law is concerned.
Stressing that the impact of HFC on Hindu society has been phenomenal, the court opined that HFC has not encroached upon the religious custom, culture, practice, and propagation of the minuscule minority, i.e., Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, included within the definition of Hindus. The HFC can be said to be the UCC governing the Hindus and the communities, falling within the ambit and definition of Hindu and that it covers and has sway over 80% of the population.
Significantly, the court noted that the HFC laid the foundation of transforming the traditional Hindu society, and the legislations lifted and transported the Hindu personal law from the shastra/religion and placed it within the domain of Parliament.
“Parliament through HFC in a single stroke provided the legal platform where Hindu citizens could interact with each other on equal terms irrespective of rigid caste, jati, creed, gotra and the concept of purity, pollution in marriage and dining. The HFC has been largely instrumental, (apart from other factors viz education, mobility, health services), in facilitating and creating what the sociologist refer to as a Hindu social class and or a Hindu citizenry,” noted the court.
The petitioners were major and one of the parties to the marriage had converted to the religion/faith of his/her partner. The petitioners had apprehended threats to their life, liberty and well-being. Hence, they had filed writ petitions seeking protection and registration of their marriages.
Key observations:
The issue of UCC, though constitutional, rakes political overtures whenever raised or debated in the public domain and calls for its implementation in the wake of a multiplicity of marriage and family laws in place.
A belief seems to have gained ground that it is for the minority community to take a lead in the matter of reforms of their personal law. That has been the consistent official stand of the government within the country and in international forums. A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws that have conflicting ideologies.
No community is likely to bell the cat by making gratuitous concessions on this issue. It is the state which is charged with the duty of securing Uniform Civil Code for the citizens of the country and, unquestionably, it has the legislative competence to do so.

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