PIL in SC seeks uniform grounds of divorce for all citizens
New Delhi: A PIL seeking “uniform grounds of divorce” for all citizens of the country, keeping with the spirit of the Constitution and international conventions, has been filed in the Supreme Court.
The plea filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeks 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.
“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 says.
“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 says.
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 says.
The PIL says 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.
“Hence, grounds of divorce are neither gender neutral nor religion neutral. For example, adultery is a ground of divorce for Hindus, Christians and Parsis, but not for Muslims. Incurable leprosy is a ground of divorce for Hindus and Christians, but not for Parsis and Muslims.
“Impotency is a ground of divorce for Hindus-Muslims, but not for Christians-Parsis. Underage marriage is a ground of divorce for Hindus, but not for Christians, Parsis and Muslims,” the plea says.
It adds that many other grounds of divorce are neither gender neutral nor religion neutral, though equity, equality and equal opportunity are the hallmarks of a socialist, secular, democratic republic like India.
“The ongoing distinction is based on a patriarchal mindset and stereotypes and has no scientific backing, perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women and goes against the global trends,” the plea says.