In a key development, the Delhi HC backed the need for a Uniform Civil Code and asked the Ministry of Law and Justice to take the necessary action as deemed appropriate. The single-judge bench of Justice Pratibha Singh was hearing a plea to determine the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to the Meena community. The case pertains to petitioner Satprakash Meena who got married on June 24, 2012, and filed a divorce plea before the Family Court on December 2, 2015.
However, his wife prayed for the rejection of the review petition on the ground that both of them belong to the Meena community- a notified Scheduled Tribe in Rajasthan. On November 28, 2020, the Family Court passed an order in her favour ruling that the provisions of the HMA do not extend to the Meena community. This verdict was challenged by the petitioner in the present case.
Overturning this decision, the judge noted that the HMA provisions will apply as the marriage was solemnised as per the Hindu customs and rites. She added, "The impugned judgment is not sustainable and is accordingly set aside. Trial court is directed to proceed with the adjudication of the petition under 13-1(IA) of the HMA, 1955 on merits and render a decision within six months
Observations on the Uniform Civil Code
In the verdict dated July 7, she highlighted that the present case highlights the necessity of the Uniform Civil Code, something which has been reiterated by the Supreme Court over the years. A part of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution, Article 44 reads, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. However, the HC expressed surprise at the fact that the Centre has failed to take any steps to formulate a Uniform Civil Code in India despite a 1985 Supreme Court verdict in this regard.
Justice Pratibha Singh observed, “The need for a Uniform Civil Code as envisioned under Article 44, has been reiterated from time to time by the Supreme Court. Cases like the present one repeatedly highlight the need for such a Code – ‘common to all’, which would enable uniform principles being applied in respect of aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession etc., so that settled principles, safeguards and procedures can be laid down and citizens are not made to struggle due to the conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws. In modern Indian society which is gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating. The youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes or religions who solemnise their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws, especially in relation to marriage and divorce.” With the special inputs from Republic TV