Court Urges India’s Religion-Based Personal Laws To End


The Delhi Supreme Court has called on the Indian government to enact a unified personal law that governs all citizens regardless of religion – a move that Christians and Muslims have opposed for decades.

Judge Prathiba M. Singh said on July 9th that the Constitution promulgated in 1950 expressed the hope that the state should ensure a unified civil code for its citizens. It “shouldn’t be a mere hope,” she said.

India currently has religion-based personal laws governing marriage, divorce and succession that respect the customs and practices of various religions.

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Those who oppose a common civil code that includes Christian and Muslim religious leaders say a single personal code would threaten religious diversity in a country of 1.3 billion people who follow different religions.

Judge Singh said, however, that the Supreme Court of India, the country’s highest court, ordered the federal government in 1985 to take steps towards unified personal law.

More than three decades later, “it is unclear what steps have been taken in this regard to date,” she said.

I think the Delhi Supreme Court is trying to tell the government to deal with discriminatory laws

Her observations came on hearing a petition questioning the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 in relation to a married couple belonging to the Meenas caste group, which is prevalent in Rajasthan and some northern states.

The applicant’s husband argued that the law did not apply to them because they were members of a government-registered tribe in Rajasthan.

Judge Singh said Indian courts have repeatedly faced conflicts arising from personal laws. People of different communities, castes and religions who enter into marital ties struggle with such conflicts, she noted.

A uniform civil code could protect and protect personal rights and end civil struggles that result from “conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws,” said the judge.

However, a unified civil code has been a political hot potato for decades, pushed for by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against opposition from Congress and other opposition parties.

The Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the move towards a unified civil code shows “the local politics practiced by the Hindutva platform and the insecurity among minorities, especially the Muslim community”. Such a code would have the opposite effect and would not help national integration, it was said.

According to Christian leader AC Michael, the Indian Legal Commission said in 2018 in response to a reprimand from the Ministry of Law and Justice in June 2016 that a unified civil code was neither necessary nor desirable.

“I think the Delhi Supreme Court is trying to tell the government to deal with discriminatory laws instead of imposing rules that would violate fundamental rights,” he said.

Congress party leaders like M. VeerappaMoily, a former federal minister and prime minister of Karnataka state, believe that a single civil code “is next to impossible in a vast country like India, with so many parishes and tribal groups, each following its own.” social norms. ”

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said the unified civil code should not be viewed as a Hindu-Muslim divide.

“Until 1955, even Hindu men were allowed to have multiple wives, and it wasn’t until the Hindu Code was introduced that polygamy stopped among Hindus. This was a legal reform among Hindus, ”he said.

Patra indirectly said that the code aims to stop polygamy among Muslims that leads to the oppression and victimization of women

The unified civil code also aims to end “gender discrimination” so that women, especially Muslims, are given dignity and trust.

Patra indirectly said that the code aims to stop polygamy among Muslims that leads to the oppression and victimization of women.

BJP leaders point out that Hindu and Christian women are not allowed before age 18.

The unified civil code aims to replace existing religion-based laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Indian Christian Marriages Act, Indian Divorce Act, and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act.

Sharia (Islamic) laws) are not codified and are based solely on religious scriptures.

The Supreme Court first recommended a unified civil code in India in 1985.

The proposals would enforce monogamy, equal rights for sons and daughters in the inheritance of paternal property, and gender and religion-neutral laws.


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