NEW DELHI: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has moved the Supreme Court against a plea seeking “uniform grounds of divorce” for all citizens of the country, keeping with the spirit of the Constitution and international conventions.
The AIMPLB has opposed the plea filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking uniform grounds of divorce on the basis that personal laws cannot be tested on the anvil of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 44 of the Constitution.
“The applicant would like to submit that the expression and ‘Custom and Usage’ in Article 13 of the Constitution does not include faith of a religious denomination embedded in personal laws,” the plea said while seeking impleadment in the petition filed by Upadhyay.
“The Constituent Assembly was aware of the distinction between ‘personal law’ and the ‘custom and usage’ and chose advisedly to exclude personal law and include custom and usage in Article 13 of the Constitution,” it said.
The Board in its plea submitted that the laws relating to marriage and divorce amongst the Hindus themselves are not uniform and thus the customs and practices have been protected by the statute itself.
The top court on December 16 last year had issued notice to the Centre on the plea filed by Upadhyay.
His plea sought directions to the Centre to take steps to remove anomalies in divorce laws and make them uniform for all citizens, without any prejudice on the basis of religion, race, cast, sex or place of birth.
“The court may declare that the discriminatory grounds of divorce are violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and frame guidelines for ‘Uniform Grounds of Divorce’ for all citizens,” it said.
While Article 13 of the Constitution deals with laws that are inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights, Article 14 guarantees equality before law to all citizens.
Article 21 pertains to the protection of life and personal liberty whereas Article 44 talks about a uniform civil code for the citizens.
“Alternatively, this court may direct the Law Commission to examine the laws of divorce and suggest ‘Uniform Grounds of Divorce’ for all citizens in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 within three months, while considering international laws and international conventions,” the plea said.
Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains have to seek divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Muslims, Christians and Parsis have their own personal laws.
A couple belonging to different religions has to seek divorce under the Special Marriage Act, 1956,” it said. If either partner is a foreign national then that person has to seek divorce under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
Hence, the grounds of divorce are neither gender neutral nor religion neutral, the plea said.
The PIL said the “injury” caused to the public due to this is large because divorce is among the most traumatic misfortunes for both men and women, but even after 73 years of independence, divorce procedures are very complex in the country.