PIL seeking gender-neutral, religion-neutral grounds for maintenance-alimony: SC issues notice to Centre

The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to the Central Government on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking ‘Gender Neutral Religion Neutral Uniform Grounds of Maintenance and Alimony’.

A bench led by CJI SA Bobde said that the bench was issuing the notice with great caution as the plea, in effect, sought nullification of personal laws.

(LtoR)- Justice A S Bopanna, CJI S A Bobde and Justice V. Ramasubramanian.

“You want personal laws to be abolished. You are not saying it but that is what will have to be effectively done. How can we encroach upon personal laws,” CJI Bobde asked Senior Advocates Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora who argued for the petitioner.

The plea filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who is also a BJP leader, said that gender-neutral religion-neutral maintenance-alimony would be one step in the direction of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

The plea asserted that UCC would strengthen the constitutional spirit of gender justice and gender equality, which is regarded as the heart and soul of the Constitution.

It contended “adoption, succession, maintenance, inheritance, guardianship, custody, marriage age and grounds of divorce are secular activities. Therefore, it is the duty of Centre to ensure that every man-woman has uniform succession-inheritance, uniform adoption-guardianship, uniform maintenance-alimony, uniform age of marriage, uniform grounds of divorce in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 and international conventions.

“Uniformity in these secular activities is not only necessary to secure gender justice, gender equality, the dignity of women but also essential to promote fraternity, unity, national integration,” the petition stated.

In the alternative, the plea sought a direction to the Law Commission of India to examine domestic and international laws and prepare a report on uniform grounds of maintenance and alimony in the spirit of Articles 14 (Right to Equality), 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth), 21 (Right to Life and liberty) and 44 (UCC) and international conventions.

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