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India's Supreme Court Favors Uniform Civil Code


Outlook, Jul. 23, 2003

In a big boost to the campaign for a uniform civil code, the Supreme Court has held that there is no connection between religious and personal law in a civilised society and favors putting in place a common code governing all religious communities.

Observations for putting in place a uniform civil code were made on Monday by a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice V.N. Khare while striking down as unconstitutional Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act which discriminates against Christians by imposing restrictions on their donation (by will) property for religious and charitable purposes.

The other two Judges on the Bench, Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, in separate judgements, concurred with the Chief Justice's judgement striking down Section 118 and indicated the desirability of a common civil code.

Justice Khare said 'We would like to state that Article 44 provides that the State shall endeavour to secure for its citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. The aforesaid provision is based on the premise that there is no necessary connection between religious and personal law in a civilised society. It is a matter of regret that Article 44 of the Constitution has not been given effect. Parliament has still to step in for framing a common civil code in the country. A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing the contradictions based on ideologies,' the Chief Justice said.