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Supreme Court to study plea for uniform divorce, alimony rules for all

What happened ? Plea is filed in the Supreme Court for gender neutral and religion neutral divorce laws, i.e. uniform divorce laws.

Why such petition ? This petition is based on the fact that personal laws regarding maintenance, divorce and alimony are discriminatory to woman and marginalised women. Thus they are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which provides Right to equality and Right against discrimination on the basis of religion and gender and right to dignity under Article 15.

The diversity pointed out –

  • The petition mentions that Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1955 are applicable on Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.

  • Muslims governed under Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 in regard to marriage and divorce.

  • Divorce cases between Christians are governed by Indian Divorce Act, 1869 and Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 applies to marriage and divorce cases of Parsis.

POINT TO NOTE : None of these legislations are gender neutral.

It further mentioned that discrimination in maintenance and alimony favours patriarchal system and any provisions discriminatory towards other sex are arbitrary. It mentioned that Law Commission should examine domestic as well as global legislations and prepare a report on uniform grounds of maintenance and alimony within three months period.

Court’s opinion on the petition : Court said that uniform civil code means abolishing personal laws and it cannot do so because Uniform civil code is the task to be done by the government.

Legal provisions on uniform divorce, maintenance and alimony

  • Article 44 of the Constitution provides that State shall endeavour to secure a uniform civil code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

  • Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides provisions regarding maintenance and it applies to people of every community and provides for maintenance of wives, children, mother and father who do not have reasonable means to maintain themselves or who suffer from any mental or physical incapacity.

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