SC asks Centre’s response on PILs raising the issue for uniform divorce laws for women

2 PILs were filed relating to uniform divorce law and uniformity in grant of maintenance and alimony of women, respectively. The SC asked for the Central Government’s reply to the fact that even after 25 years of pledging to implement the UCC without delay, it still has not happened.

The question at hand was how they could balance women’s rights without encroaching on the institution of personal laws.

“A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law which have conflicting ideologies,” the court had unambiguously stated at the time in Shah Bano case back in 1985.

The petitioner, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, stated that none of the personal laws are gender-neutral because they provide different grounds for divorce and alimony.

Counsels for the petitioners, Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora, argued that different modes of divorce and varied means of maintenance and alimony to women provided for under personal laws violated the right to equality and non-discrimination and were an affront to women’s right to dignity, which is part and parcel of their right to life.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian appeared circumspect about entertaining the plea, apprehensive whether doing so would mark an intrusion into the personal laws of religious minorities who are sensitive about what they consider to be a constitutionally guaranteed autonomy.

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