New Delhi, Apr 10 (ILNS) A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of a PIL pending in the Delhi High Court, regarding preparation of a draft Uniform Civil Code.
The plea pending before the High Court sought direction to the Centre to constitute a Judicial Commission or a High-Level Expert Committee, to prepare a draft Uniform Civil Code/Indian Civil Code, in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 of the Constitution and international conventions, to secure gender justice, gender equality, and the dignity of women.
Petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said he had filed the PIL in the Delhi High Court to weed out anomalies in the minimum age of marriage, grounds of divorce, maintenance-alimony, adoption-guardianship, succession-inheritance and the differences based on patriarchal stereotypes, which have no scientific backing, perpetrate de jure and de facto inequality against women, and go against the global trends.
According to the PIL, Muslim personal law allows polygamy, while other religions don’t. Even in the case of infertility, Christians, Hindus and Parsis are forbidden from marrying again by Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. This also leads to religious conversions as people convert to Islam in order to re-marry.
Even Islamic nations do not permit second marriage without the first wife’s consent. Polygamy is not a religious issue, rather an issue of civil and human rights. Therefore, Section 494 of IPC must be neutral of religion and gender, it contended.
The petitioner, himself a Senior Advocate, said that minimum age of marriage is not the same for men and women. The age of adulthood of Muslim girls is not fixed and the girl is considered eligible for marriage at the beginning of her periods, hence girls are married at the age of 11-12 years, whereas in other religions, the minimum age of marriage of girls is 18 years and the minimum age of marriage of boys is 21 years.
It is necessary to state that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated many a times that a girl is not physically and mentally mature for marriage before the age of 20 and pregnancy before 20 is extremely harmful to both the mother and the child. Moreover, children who complete graduation after 20 years, are also not financially self-reliant. So, it is necessary to make the minimum age of marriage 21 years, the PIL claimed.
It was alleged in the petition by BJP leader Mr Upadhyay that despite the fact that Triple Talaq has been declared illegal, Talaq-e-Hasan and Talaq-e-Ahsan are still valid. They are also not obligated to state the basis of divorce and only have to wait for three months, but in other religions, oral divorce is not possible.
In Muslim law, the system of succession and inheritance is highly complex, and there is excessive discrimination between sons and daughters in parental property. In other religions also, the rights of the wife in post-marriage property, succession and inheritance are undefined. Though, these are also a matter of civil and human rights, he highlighted.
It was pointed out in the PIL that the basis of divorce is not the same for everyone. A Muslim can divorce his wife on the basis of adultery, but the wife cannot divorce her husband. In Hindus, Parsis and Christians, fornication is not a ground for divorce.
Divorce can occur in Hinduism and Christianity on the basis of incurable diseases like leprosy, but not in Parsi and Muslim religions. Marriage may break in Hinduism on the basis of marriage at an early age, but it is not possible in Parsis, Christians and Muslims. ‘Grounds of Divorce’ is not in any way a religious matter, but a matter of civil rights and human rights under Article 25, so it should be completely gender-neutral and religion-neutral, the petition noted.
It said, “Adoption-guardianship also differs for Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians and Christians. Muslims cannot adopt and adoption is male dominant in other religions. Grounds of adoption-guardianship is not a religious matter by any means, but a matter of both civil and human rights, so it should also be completely gender-neutral and religion-neutral”.
The petitioner urged the Supreme Court and the High Court to direct the Centre to constitute a Judicial Commission or Expert Committee to study the Uniform Civil Code of developed countries and the laws applicable in India and make public a draft of the ‘Indian Civil Code,’ combining the good of all, on which a public discussion could begin.
Mr Upadhyay said that five PILs seeking the uniform minimum marriage age, uniform divorce grounds, uniform maintenance-alimony, uniform adoption-guardianship, and uniform succession inheritance were pending in the Supreme Court.
“The discrimination between a girl and a boy was not established by ‘God,’ but by the man himself. The discrimination was not a result of customs, religious rites and rituals, but of male supremacy and ego, which made them oppress women. Relating this discrimination to religion is unethical, immoral and wrong,” added the PIL.