In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay and argued by Senior Advocates Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora, the bench headed by CJI SA Bobde issued notice to the Center today, as regards uniform grounds of divorce and alimony irrespective of religious affiliations for women.
Initially CJI Bobde said that it is for Center to come up with a Uniform Civil Code and commented that the Supreme Court is admitting PILs with caution. Senior Advocates Ms. Anand and Ms. Arora emphasized that the Court should step in to protect women’s rights. They said “Religions may be treating women differently as per the Personal law sanctions but when religious customs violate the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination, the Courts must step in to protect women’s rights.”
They further pointed out that currently women from different religion have to proceed under different laws for seeking divorce. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh women have to avail the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 ; Christian, Muslim and Parsi women have to seek divorce under their own personal laws and people who are from different religion and who have married under the Special Marriage Act have to seek divorce therein. Similarly, those who have married under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 have to divorce therein. They prayed that grounds of divorce should be gender neutral and religion-neutral.
At a time where there are concerns regarding the Uniform Civil Code, how will this legal route via the Supreme Court to bring in elements of Uniform Civil Code be received remains to be seen.