Cannot direct Parliament to enact Uniform Civil Code: SC

Cannot direct Parliament to enact Uniform Civil Code: SC

But will consider if an aggrieved Muslim woman comes to us, says the apex court.

Curious about the push to circumvent the Parliament and use the courts to usher in the Uniform Civil Code, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a Bharatiya Janata Party leader seeking to bring the civil code which brings all religious personal laws under one umbrella.

A bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi asked BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to withdraw his petition, while saying that it could still consider such a plea for a common civil code had someone aggrieved by a harsh or discriminatory personal law of her community come to it.

“What cannot be done directly, you are trying to do indirectly… We cannot ask the parliament to bring the common civil code… tell us first, has anybody come from the community you are alleging discrimination? If an aggrieved Muslim had come, we would have still considered her case… but we cannot examine this on the basis of a PIL,” Chief Justice Thakur told senior advocate Gopal Subramanium.

The court said that the goal of the Constitution for a uniform civil code is “one thing”, asking the apex court in a PIL to issue a mandamus to the parliament to enact the common code is “another”.

“We cannot ask them (parliament) to bring the Uniform Civil Code,” Chief Justice Thakur said.

The Bench said that 21 years ago the apex court had declined to go into the issue of civil common code, and the position has not changed.

The Chief Justice Bench’s refusal to entertain this plea even as another Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel, in a judgment, directed a suo motu PIL to be filed in the Supreme Court to have a re-look at the issue of “gender discrimination” suffered by Muslim women in the country.

In a judgment by Justice Goel, the Bench said that it is time for the apex court to settle once and for all whether the Islamic personal law violated the fundamental rights of Muslim women.

Another bench led by Justice Vikramjit Sen had also recently asked the government to clarify whether there is any definite move to usher in the Uniform Civil Code.

The Chief Justice Bench’s refusal comes even as Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had given a positive signal about the government’s intention to bringing a common code. The Minister however said a code could not be finalised overnight, but only after detailed consultations with stakeholders and voices in the government.

NEW DELHI, December 7, 2015