NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Tuesday said it would hear on November 4 the two petitions seeking its directions for drafting of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to secure gender justice and to promote fraternity and national integration.
When the matter came up for hearing in the morning, the counsel sought a passover saying that senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was to argue the case, was in the Supreme Court.
The matter could not reach the hearing later and a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar listed it for November 4.
The first petition, filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, has sought direction for drafting a UCC to promote unity, fraternity and national integration.
The court had on May 31 issued notice to the Centre seeking its response to the PIL.
The petition has been opposed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which has filed an application to be impleaded as a party in the matter, claiming that the plea was not maintainable in law and ought not to be entertained.
A fresh petition, by advocate Abhinav Beri, was filed Monday seeking a direction to the Centre to constitute a judicial commission or a high level expert committee to draft a UCC for securing gender justice, equality and dignity of women.
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 (the State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India).
Upadhyay has contended that the Centre has "failed" to put in place a UCC as provided under Article 44 of the Constitution.
The lawyers who have filed the petitions have claimed that 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.
Beri's petition also sought 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.
It said the nature and purpose of 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," the plea said.
The need of the hour for national integration is a draft copy of UCC, it added.
In last 70 years, the Constitution has been amended 125 times and judgment of the Supreme Court has been nullified five times but the executive has not taken serious steps to implement Uniform Civil Code, the plea said.