Read Judgement: Satprakash Meena vs. Alka Meena

LE Staff

New Delhi, July 10, 2021: The Delhi High Court has emphasized the growing necessity to have in place a Uniform Civil Code for the country in view of the rapid transformation of Indian society with the gradual dissipation of traditional barriers of religion, community and caste. 

A Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh observed that the youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes or religions who solemnize their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws, especially in relation to marriage and divorce. 

Quoting the judgment of the Supreme Court passed in Ms Jordon Diengdeh versus S.S. Chopra and reiterating that more than three decades have passed since then, the Court stated that the hope expressed in Article 44 of the Constitution that the State shall secure for its citizens Uniform Civil Code ought not to remain a mere hope.

These observations came in a challenge to the Family Court’s order holding that the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 would not be applicable to the members of the Meena community as it is a notified Scheduled Tribe. Aggrieved petitioner i.e., husband urged that the marriage was solemnized as per Hindu rites and customs and, therefore, the Hindu Marriage Act would be squarely applicable.

On the other hand, the Respondent-wife submitted that judgments from various Courts had clarified that even if Hindu customs are being followed, it would not automatically mean that the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act are applicable in the case of members of a notified Scheduled Tribe.

The High Court, after analyzing the situation & facts of the case, found that if proper tribal customs are not established or the parties admit to following Hindu customs and rites, there is no reason to hold that the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act are not applicable. 

Highlighting the judgment of Supreme Court in Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum, the HC said it was found that the Apex Court on the issue of conflict in personal laws laid down that a common Civil Code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies. 

Justice Singh therefore, directed that the copy of the present judgment be communicated to the Secretary, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, for necessary action as deemed appropriate. 

The High Court also reiterated that Goa is the only State in India which has a Uniform Civil Code, thereby having uniform personal laws governing all citizens regardless of their religion.

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