The Delhi High Court on Monday agreed to hear on Tuesday a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to the Centre to constitute a judicial commission or a high level expert committee to draft a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for securing gender justice, equality and dignity of women.
The plea was mentioned before a bench a Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar which tagged it for hearing along with a similar pending petition.
The petition, filed by advocate Abhinav Beri, also said that a direction be given to the Law Commission to draft a UCC within three months taking into account the best practices of all religions and sects, civil laws of developed countries and international conventions and publish that on its website for at least 90 days for wide public debate and feedback.
Another petition by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking framing of the UCC to promote unity, fraternity and national integration is also pending before the court.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has moved the high court opposing Mr Upadhyay's PIL and sought to be impleaded as a party in the matter, saying the petition was not maintainable in law and ought not to be entertained.
The fresh petition said the nature and purpose of the Article 44 is to introduce a common civil code for all, which is essential to promote fraternity, unity and national integration.
"It proceeds on the assumption that there is no connection between religion and personal laws in a civilised society. While the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and of religion, it seeks to divest religion from personal law and social relations and from laws governing inheritance, succession and marriage, just as it has been done even in the Muslim countries like Turkey and Egypt etc. The object of Article 44 is not to encroach upon religious liberties," it said.
The need of the hour for national integration is a draft copy of UCC, it added.
It said gender justice and gender equality, guaranteed under Articles 14-15 of the Constitution and dignity of women, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, cannot be secured without implementing the Article 44.
In last 70 years, the Constitution has been amended 125 times and judgment of the Supreme Court has been nullified 5 times but the executive has not taken serious steps to implement Uniform Civil Code, the plea said.
In his plea, Mr Upadhyay has contended that the Centre has "failed" to put in place a UCC as provided under Article 44 of the Constitution.
A UCC would replace the personal laws, based on the scriptures and customs of various religious communities, with a common set of rules governing every citizen of the country.
The high court had on May 31 issued notice to the Centre seeking its response to the PIL.