Supreme Court refuses to stop state governments from forming committees to examine all aspects of the Uniform Civil Code

Both the Uttarakhand and Gujarat governments formed panels last year to evaluate all aspects of implementing a uniform civil code.

THE Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking to challenge the formation of a commission/committee by the Uttarakhand and the Gujarat governments, respectively, to study all aspects of a Uniform Civil Code (‘UCC’).

Finding no merit in the petition, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud remarked: “What’s wrong with it? How can we stop a state from forming a committee?”

The division bench, which also comprised Justice P.S. Narasimhanoted that Entry 5 in the concurrent list in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution mentions marriage and divorce, among other things, and hence there could not per se be any grievance to the formation of the committees by the state governments.

The petition was filed by one Anoop Baranwal.

In October last year, the Gujarat Cabinet decided to constitute a committee to evaluate all aspects of implementing UCC. It followed the formation of a similar panel by another Bharatiya Janta Party-ruled state, Uttarakhand.

In December last year, the Kerala High Court said in a judgment that the Union Government should seriously consider having a uniform marriage code in India to promote the common welfare and good of spouses in matrimonial disputes.

The idea of UCC flows from Article 44 of the Constitution which states, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.

In its judgment in the Sarla Mudgal case in 1995, the Supreme Court had requested the Union Government of India through the Prime Minister to have a fresh look at Article 44 and “endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.

“We further direct the Government of India through Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice to file an affidavit of a responsible officer in this Court in August, 1996 indicating therein the steps taken and efforts made, by the Government of India, towards securing a “uniform civil code” for the citizens of India”, the Supreme Court had then said.

Click here to read the order.