New Delhi: The Delhi High Court is set to hear a batch of petitions on December 1 seeking the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The court, led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan, emphasized its limited role in the matter, citing a previous Supreme Court decision in March that rejected a plea for “gender neutral” and “religion neutral” laws by one of the petitioners, lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
The court deferred further proceedings, noting the absence of petitioners during the hearing and the pending submission of Upadhyay’s prayers before the Supreme Court. The high court highlighted that it cannot intervene if the Supreme Court has already addressed the issue. Earlier, a division bench had deemed Upadhyay’s petition prima facie not maintainable and requested the presentation of his prayers made before the top court.
Apart from Upadhyay’s plea, four other petitions before the high court assert the urgent need for a Uniform Civil Code in India. These petitions argue that gender justice and equality, guaranteed under Articles 14-15 and the dignity of women under Article 21, necessitate the implementation of Article 44, promoting a UCC.
The petitioners contend that a UCC, replacing diverse personal laws based on religious scriptures, is essential for national unity. The Centre responds by acknowledging the diversity in property and matrimonial laws but deems the matter a policy decision for elected representatives. The Centre commits to examining the issue after receiving the Law Commission’s report.
In 2019, the high court sought the Centre’s response to Upadhyay’s petition, which sought the constitution of a judicial commission to draft the UCC for national integration and gender justice.