NEW DELHI: The Union government has told the Supreme Court that it has referred the matter related to uniform laws on inheritance, right to property, maintenance, succession, divorce, adoption and guardianship to the Law Commission and would examine the issues in consultation with all stakeholders after receiving a report from it.
"After receiving the request from the Central Government, 21st Law Commission undertaken examination of various aspects of the matter and received several representations from various stakeholders and after detail research on the matter had uploaded a consultation paper on 31 August, 2018, titled 'Reform of Family Law' in its website. The term of the 21st Law Commission however, ended on 31.08.2018 and the 22 nd Law Commission has been constituted. The subject matter will be placed before the 22 nd Law Commission for its consideration when Chairman and Members of the commission are appointed. As and when the report of Law Commission in the matter is received, the government would examine the same in consultation with the various stakeholders involved in the matter," it said.
The government also submitted the purpose behind Article 44 is to strengthen the object of Secular Democratic Republic as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution This provision is provided to effect integration of India by bringing communities on the common platform on matters which are at present governed by diverse personal laws This article is based on the concept that matters of inheritance, right to property, marriage, divorce, custody of minor children, maintenance and succession, etc, there will be common law.
"Article 44 divests religion from social relations and personal law. Citizens belonging to different religious and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws which is affront to nation's unity," it added.
In a written response to the PILs filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the Law Ministry also contended the court cannot direct the Parliament to frame or enact any law.
In fact, the government urged the court to dismiss the PILs seeking a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country.
The ministry said to have legislation or not is a policy decision and the court cannot give any direction to the executive.
"The present writ petition is not maintainable in the eye of law," it said.
"It is a settled position of law as has been held in a catena of judgements by this court that under our constitutional scheme, Parliament exercises sovereign power to enact laws and no outside power or authority can issue a direction to enact a particular piece of legislation. A writ of Mandamus cannot be issued to the legislature to enact a particular legislation,” it added.
The government also contended that it was a matter of policy for the elected representatives of the people to decide and no direction in this regard can be issued by the court. It is for the legislature to enact or not to enact a piece of legislation.
The government further said that the Article 44 of the Constitution is a directive principle requiring the state to endeavour to secure UCC for all the citizens, and the purpose behind it is to strengthen the object of "secular democratic republic" as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.
The provision is to give effect to integration of India by bringing communities on the common platform on matters which are at present governed by diverse personal laws.
"Therefore, against the backdrop of the sensitivity of the subject matter, in-depth study of provisions of various personal laws governing different communities is required," the Ministry said.
However, "to have legislation or not is a policy decision and the court cannot give any direction to the Executive," the government said.