The apex court had earlier issued notice on a PIL for enforcement of UCC while entertaining two separate PILs seeking uniform divorce laws and uniformity in grant of maintenance and alimony to women, and sought the Centre’s response. As the government did not file its reply and sought further time, a bench of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh deferred the hearing in the case for next month.
In the meantime, the bench allowed the transfer petitions and directed that cases pending in high courts, including in Meghalaya and Orissa, be transferred to the Supreme Court and tagged all the petitions together for adjudication.
Pressing for UCC, the petitioners in their plea contended that as recently as on September 13, 2019, the SC, in the Jose Paulo Coutinho case, once again reiterated the need for UCC by citing the example of Goa but the Centre had not taken any step to even provide uniform grounds of maintenance and alimony for all Indian citizens. The petitioners pleaded that the Centre be directed to take steps of its implementation.
“Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain communities are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Muslims are dealt as per status of valid marriage and pre-nuptial agreement and governed under Muslim Women Act, 1986. Christians are governed under Indian Divorce Act, 1869, and Parsis under Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936. But none of these laws are gender neutral and provide for different grounds for divorce as well as different alimony,” the petitioner said.