PIL in Supreme Court of India, requesting uniform grounds for Divorce
The petitioner, Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a BJP spokesperson, on 20 August 2020 filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking directions to frame guidelines for Uniform Grounds of Divorce and to declare as discriminatory other grounds of divorce, as prevalent in different communities, as violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution of India.
This is in regard to the imploration set by the above-mentioned petitioner seeking directions to the Centre to take pertinent steps to remove anomalies in the grounds of divorce and make them uniform for all citizens without prejudice on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth in the spirit of the Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 of the Constitution of India and international conventions.
It was contented by the Petitioner,
“Under-age marriage is grounds for divorce for Hindus, but not for Christians, Parsis and Muslims. Similarly, many other grounds for divorce are neither gender neutral nor religion neutral, though, equity equality and equal opportunity is the hallmark of socialist secular democratic republic like ours. The ongoing distinction is based on patriarchal and stereotypes and has no scientific backing, perpetrates de-jure and de facto inequality against women and goes against the global trends.”
Along with this, another prayer was also made by the Petitioner, seeking a direction to the Law Commission to examine the issue and give its suggestion within three months. The PIL noted distinctions between different religions such as Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. and their governing laws.
It also cited examples like impotency being a ground for divorce under Hindu-Muslims personal laws, but not for Christians and Parsis. Another example was of underage marriage, which can be a ground for divorce for Hindus, but not for Muslims, Christians and Parsis, and so forth.
Another contention made in the plea was, that many other grounds of Divorce are neither gender-neutral nor well as religion-neutral, though equity, equality, and equal-opportunity are the hallmarks of a socialist, secular and democratic republic like India. In addition, it was pointed out by the Petitioner that despite the complexity and other challenges in the divorce procedure for different religions, since divorce is among the most traumatic misfortune for both men and women, the injury because of such arrangement could be very significant.
The petition submitted that the Centre had failed to provide “Uniform Grounds of Divorce” for all the citizens throughout the territory of India despite having well expressed provisions in the constitution such as Article 38, 39, 44, 46, and 51 of the Constitution of India even after a long period of independence.