New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central government to take swift decision on uniform civil code and end the “total confusion” over laws governing religious practices.
A bench headed by justice Vikramjit Sen asked the Solicitor General to seek the government's view and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
“There is total confusion… we should work on the Uniform Civil Code. What happened to it? If you (government) want to do it, then you should do it. Why don't you frame and implement it,” the bench asked the counsel appearing for the government.
The SC asked the government to come up with a proposal to amend the Christian divorce act.
The apex court's response came while hearing a petition, challenging the legal provision that compels Christian couples to wait for at least two years for divorce while the period for other couples is two years. The petition has been filed by a Delhi-based man who is seeking to scrape off the two-year mandatory separation.
The government had told the court in previous hearings that it would consider amending Section 10A (1) of the Divorce Act and the Law Ministry had also initiated a proposal.
The bench, on Monday, expressed its displeasure over the fact that even after three months of the last hearing, the provision had not been amended. “What happened? Why this cannot be done? You should tell us if you want to do it,” the bench said asked the government counsel as he sought more time.
Uniform Civil Code necessary but consensus needed: Law Minister Sadananda Gowda
Commenting on the SC's directive, Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said that a Uniform Civil Code is necessary for national integration but any decision to bring it can be taken only after wider consultations.
Gowda said "wider consultations" will be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus and the process may take 'some time'...Even the Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 of the Constitution do say that there should be a Uniform Civil Code.”
“For the interest of national integration, certainly a common civil code is necessary. But it is a very sensitive issue. It needs very wider consultation. Even communities, even across the party line, even various organisations...it need to have a wider consultation," Gowda added.
Uniform Civil Code impractical in India: Muslim cleric
Muslim cleric Abdul Hameed Nomani called the Uniform Civil Code impractical in a country as diverse as India and said that the entire Muslim community is against it.
"It is impractical. In a country like India where there is diversity of religion and class, Uniform Civil Code is unnatural here," Nomani said.
"The biggest example is that the NDA Government whether Vajpayee's or the present regime, they have never opened up about the code or explained what the code would be about. This is against the freedom of religion. This is related to the state government, which defies the Constitution which defines the Fundamental Rights of a citizen," he added.