New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a public interest petition seeking direction to parliament for enacting a uniform civil code to end alleged discrimination being faced by Muslim women, telling the petitioner to approach parliament and not waste the court’s time.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice R Banumathi said that it is for parliament to take a call on the issue and it was not in the realm of the apex court to issue a direction (to parliament) on this.
Chief Justice Thakur, in a disapproving note, told senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the petitioner, that if such petitions were filed without regard to the law, the court will come down very heavily.
Pointing out that the legal position on the issue was “very well settled”, the court told the petitioner advocate he was “wasting the court’s time”.
“You are wasting our time”, the bench said.
The petitioner was advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who is also the spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit.
The court asked why none of those who are being allegedly discriminated against have come forward for redressal. “Why it is that none of the people from the community have not come,” asked Chief Justice Thakur.
If an aggrieved woman comes to the court, we may still consider examining it, the court said questioning the locus of the petitioner to raise the issue.
Asking Upadhyay to approach parliament for such a legislation, the bench said: “What you cannot do directly you are trying to do it indirectly?”
The petitioner had sought direction to the government take steps for the enactment of the Uniform Civil Code in fulfilment of its obligation under the Directive Principles of the State Policy in the constitution. Article 44, under the principles, says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
The petition had contended that a uniform civil code was a sign of modern progressive nation, which will show that India has moved away from religion, race, caste and sex discrimination.
Contending that at present “what we have right now in India is selective secularism, which means that in some areas, we are secular and in others”, the petitioner said: “While our economic growth has been the highest in the world, our social growth has not happened at all. In fact, it might be right to say that socially and culturally we have degraded to a point where we are neither modern nor traditional.”
Upadhyay in his PIL said that the uniform civil code meant that all the citizens have to follow the same civil laws irrespective whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, or Sikhs.
It said that uniform civil code did not limit the freedom to follow their respective religions, but it just mean that every person shall be treated equally, which Upadhyay described “as real secularism”.