The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it could not direct Parliament to draught or pass any Uniform Civil Code legislation in the country.
In its affidavit, the Ministry of Law and Justice argued that policy decisions are made by elected representatives of the people and that the Centre cannot give policy directives.
“It is for the legislature to enact or not to enact a piece of legislation,” the ministry told the apex court.
The affidavit was filed on a plea of advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking uniformity in the personal laws regulating succession, inheritance, adoption, marriage, divorce, maintenance and alimony.
The Centre while seeking dismissal of the plea said, “It is 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.”
It went on to say that Article 44 of the Indian Constitution is a directive concept that requires states to strive for a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens.
According to the ministry, the purpose of Article 44 is to reinforce the “Secular Democratic Republic” object established in the Constitution’s Preamble.
“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. Thus, in view of the importance and sensitivity of the subject matter, in-depth study of various personal laws is required,” it said.
It informed the Supreme Court that it is aware of the issue and that the 21st Law Commission conducted a thorough examination of it by inviting representations from various stakeholders; however, because the said Commission’s term ended in August 2018, the matter will be referred to the 22nd Commission.
“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,” said the ministry.
In accordance with the spirit of the Constitution and international conventions, the petitions sought uniform grounds for divorce, alimony, succession, inheritance, adoption, marriage, and maintenance for all citizens of the country.