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Delhi HC Declines to give direction on plea for Uniform Civil Code

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Published on: December 1, 2023 at 12:13 IST

The Delhi High Court, in the case of Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, recently rejected a series of petitions requesting directions to the Central government to enact a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for the nation.

Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna, constituting the division bench, asserted that they cannot compel the legislature to pass such a law, citing the Supreme Court’s previous dismissal of similar petitions.

“We cannot direct the legislature to enact a law. Supreme Court has already dealt with the issue and rejected the petitions,” stated the Court.

Additionally, the Court noted that the Law Commission is actively engaged in the matter and suggested that the petitioners are free to submit their recommendations to the Law Commission.

In June, the Law Commission of India had solicited public opinions, views from recognized religious organizations, and input from other stakeholders regarding the Uniform Civil Code.

The petitioners, including BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, Nighat Abbas, and Amber Zaid, chose to withdraw their pleas following the court’s stance. Upadhyay’s lead petition, filed in 2019, had urged the Central Government to establish a Judicial Commission or a High-Level Expert Committee to formulate a Uniform Civil Code within three months.

The proposed UCC aimed to incorporate the best practices from all religions, sects, civil laws of developed nations, and international conventions.

Responding to the petition, the Central government sought its dismissal, contending that the introduction of a UCC requires a thorough examination of various personal laws governing different communities.

The Law Ministry emphasized that such a comprehensive study cannot be accomplished within three months based on court orders.

The affidavit from the Law Ministry highlighted that, according to the Constitutional scheme, only the parliament possesses the authority to undertake such a task, and the judiciary cannot issue a writ mandating the enactment of specific legislation.

The Delhi High Court, aligning with the clarity and specificity of the Supreme Court’s position on the matter, declined to entertain the plea, prompting the petitioners to withdraw their submissions.