Courts Update Delhi HC stresses need for Uniform Civil Code under...

Delhi HC stresses need for Uniform Civil Code under Article 44 as modern Indian society is gradually becoming homogeneous

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (ILNS) The Delhi High Court today said that there is a need for a Uniform Civil Code as envisaged under Article 44 of the Constitution and has been reiterated from time to time by the Supreme Court, while allowing the plea filed by a man belonging to “Meena Community, ” seeking directions for applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, on his Community for seeking divorce. 

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.” The desirability of a uniform civil code is consistent with human rights and the principles of equality, fairness and justice.

The petitioner said his wife succeeded in cancellation of the divorce petition before the Family Court as not maintainable on the ground that the provisions of HMA, 1955, do not apply to the parties concerned as they are members of a notified Scheduled Tribe in Rajasthan, and hence, the Hindu Marriage Act, (HMA), 1955 would not be applicable to the case of the said parties in view of Section 2(2) of the HMA, 1955. 

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh decided the question as to whether the parties ought to governed by the provisions of the HMA or should they be relegated to procedures of the Meena Tribe? 

The Court said, “In so far as the provision Section 2(2), HMA,1955 is concerned, it is clear that the provisions of the Act would not apply to the members of the Scheduled Tribal community unless the Scheduled Tribe is a notified tribe. It is the admitted position between parties that the said community is not a notified tribe. Section 2(2) reads that anything contained in subsection (1), nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the members of any Scheduled tribe within the meaning of clause (25) of article 366 of the Constitution unless the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, otherwise directs.” 

The Court said, “The Act, however, applies to any person who is Hindu by religion and includes a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana even followers of Brahma Prathana of Arya Samaj. It also applies to Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs by religion. The HMA, 1955 regulates all aspects of marriages applicable to Hindus including restitution of conjugal rights of judicial separation, divorce etc. If the HMA, 1955 does not apply to any particular individual or any parties, such parties would be relegated to their respective customary practices or community Courts.”

“In the present case, the party’s marriage was solemnised as per the Hindu customs and rites. The counsel for the Respondent-wife admitted during the course of submissions that the wife did not deny that she is a Hindu and the tribe is a Hindu tribe, however, according to him this would not take away the status of the parties being a part of the notified Scheduled Tribe under the Constitution of India,” it noted. 

The Court emphasised, “The need for a Uniform Civil Code as envisioned under Article 44, has been reiterated from time to time by the Supreme Court. Cases like the present one repeatedly highlight the need for such a Code – ‘common to all’, which would enable uniform principles being applied in respect of aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession etc., so that settled principles, safeguards and procedures can be laid down and citizens are not made to struggle due to the conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws.”

It further noted that, “In modern Indian society which is gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating. The youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes or religions who solemnize their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws, especially in relation to marriage and divorce. The hope expressed in Article 44 of the Constitution that the State shall secure for its citizens Uniform Civil Code ought not to remain a mere hope. The Supreme Court had, in 1985 directed that the judgment in Ms. Jordon Diengdeh to be placed before the Ministry of Law to take appropriate steps. However, more than three decades have passed and it is unclear as to what steps have been taken in this regard till date.

The Court directed to send the copy of the present judgment to the Secretary, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, for necessary action as deemed appropriate.”

The petition has been filed by Satprakash Meena, through his lawyer Fudan Kumar Jha. Meena seeks directions to dissolve the marriage with his wife by a decree of divorce as provided under Section 13-1(IA) of the Hindu Marriage Act. The petitioner submitted that the marriage was solemnised on June 26, 2012 in Jaipur, as per Hindu rites and ceremonies. He has also said that he had a dispute with his wife because of her “callous attitude”, and because she did not want to live with him in Delhi, where he is working as electrical engineer with the DDCA.

The petitioner has further submitted that he had filed the divorce before the Delhi District Court. His wife had countered the divorce petition with an FIR under section 498A (cruelty) and Under DV Act in Jaipur, with the plea that her marriage was solemnised according to Hindu rites and ceremonies in Jaipur.

It has been further contended that before the trial court she had filed an application under Order VII rule 11 CPC for rejection of petition on the plea that she belong to Mina/Meena Tribe, hence Hindu Marriage Act is not applicable for grant of divorce to the petitioner. The petitioner relied on the said application that marriage of the parties was solemnized according to Hindu rites and ceremonies, hence divorce to be granted according to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. ILNS/KR/RJ/SNG

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