SC notification to Heart on PIL for uniform upkeep causes, upkeep for everybody

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government of the Union to respond to two separate PILs in order to obtain uniform grounds for divorce and alimony and to remove the prevailing discrimination procedure in different communities for violating fundamental rights to equality.

A bank of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian notified the center of two PILs submitted by BJP leader and attorney Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

During the hearing, the bank asked senior lawyers Pinky Anand and Meenakshi Arora, who appeared for the petitioners, “How can we eliminate discriminatory practices without interfering with personal laws?”

For her part, Anand said the Supreme Court intervened in the Shayara Bano case (by ruling Triple Talaq unconstitutional). The court then said under Article 146 of the Constitution, the instructions it gave would stand until the law was introduced.

Senior attorney Meenakshi Arora said for two years there is no one to head the legal commission. “If we look at certain provisions of Muslim law, maintenance can only continue for the time of Biddat. The woman is left with nothing,” she said.

The petitioner asked the court to establish guidelines for uniform grounds for divorce and to eliminate discriminatory procedures in different communities.

He sought an instruction to the center to take appropriate measures to eliminate anomalies related to divorce and to make them uniform for all citizens regardless of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth.

Alternatively, he asked the Legal Affairs Commission for instructions to investigate the problem and make his proposal within three months.

The petitioner alleged that various grounds for divorce reinforced patriarchal and stereotypical ideas about women.

He said the cause of the lawsuit arose on September 13, 2019, when the Supreme Court again urged the need for uniform civil law in the Jose Paulo Coutinho case, citing the Goa example. However, the center was unable to present uniform grounds for divorce.

The petitioner alleged that the divorce was one of the most traumatic accidents for men and women and said that even after 73 years of independence, the divorce proceedings remain very complex and are neither gender nor religion neutral.

Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains are required to get divorced under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. Muslims, Christians and Parsis have their own personal laws. Couples belonging to any other religion must divorce under the Special Marriage Act of 1956. If either partner is a foreigner, they must get a divorce under the Foreign Marriage Act of 1969, he pointed out.

He added that the minimum age for marriage, grounds for divorce, custody, guardianship, adoption, alimony, succession and inheritance are the secular activities. It is therefore the duty of the state to ensure that men and women have a uniform age at marriage, grounds for divorce, maintenance and support, succession and inheritance, adoption and guardianship within the meaning of Articles 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution and the Constitution International conventions, the plea reads.

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