Law Commission's Report Against Uniform Civil Code Has A "Shaky" Foundation", Says Supreme Court While Refusing To Entertain Plea For UCC
The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit and Justice J.B. Pardiwala, on Friday, refused to entertain a petition seeking a Uniform Civil Code for India. However, the bench orally remarked that the report of the Law Commission of India which had stated that a Uniform Civil Code was undesirable was based on a judgement which had been twice doubted by the Supreme Court...
The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit and Justice J.B. Pardiwala, on Friday, refused to entertain a petition seeking a Uniform Civil Code for India. However, the bench orally remarked that the report of the Law Commission of India which had stated that a Uniform Civil Code was undesirable was based on a judgement which had been twice doubted by the Supreme Court of India and hence had a "shaky" foundation.
For context, the Law Commission of India had taken up the examination of the viability of a Uniform Civil Code on the Centre's request to look into the issue in detail and submit a report. Through the report thus submitted, the Commission had highlighted the importance of recognition of differences that existed in the Indian society and opined that formulation of a Uniform Civil Code was neither necessary nor desirable at the given stage. It had also asserted that while several issues were brought up frequently in public debate, they could not be and need not be dealt with the law.
At the outset, the petitioner, Anoop Baranwal, who was appearing in person, submitted that while the Law Commission of India had stated that a Uniform Civil Code "was neither necessary nor desirable", its findings were largely based upon the judgment of the State Of Bombay v. Narasu Appa Mali (a 1951 decision which held that personal law is not "law" within the meaning of Article 13 and hence cannot be tested on ground of violating fundamental rights). As per the petitioner, the said judgement required reconsideration as the Supreme Court had expressed its doubts upon the judgement on two different occasions. CJI Lalit also remarked that the case of Narasu Appa Mali was "old law". However, he stated–
"You are asking for something which is in the nature of a writ of mandamus saying that a particular law be in acted in a particular fashion. To what extent can we utilise our writ jurisdiction and keep passing such kind of directions or writs? This petition is a very well researched document but sorry, we cannot grant you that relief."
CJI recognised that it was possible that the judgement of Narasu Appa Mali required reconsideration as it was doubted in two other judgements of the Supreme Court. However, he stated that the present petition did not raise the issue of the judgement in question being set aside. He remarked that–
"The matter did not squarely arise where this issue could be gone into and said that Narasu Appa Mali shall stand or be set aside. We completely depart from that. As and when the matter comes up, it will be certainly considered. But today the kind of relief that you are asking for cannot be looked into. You are right in your research, the moment Law Commission goes in one direction and Narasu Appa Mali was doubted in two judgements by this court, whatever Law commission says in its report, the very foundation of that particular assumption or whatever has been found by the Law commission is completely shaky. But as and when the matter comes up before us we will certainly consider. We cannot look into this. Either you are withdrawing or we are dismissing."
Accordingly, the petition was dismissed as withdrawn.
CASE TITLE: Anoop Baranwal And Anr. v. UoI And Anr. WP(C) No. 1259/2021 PIL [PIP]