The Allahabad High Court has asked the Centre to consider Supreme Court guidelines for the implementation of Uniform Civil Code across the country. In response to as many as 17 petitions related to interfaith marriages, the court had Friday asked the central government to consider setting up a panel for implementing the mandate of Article 44, which says that the “state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a UCC throughout the territory of India”.
The court directed marriage registrar or officer of petitioners’ districts to immediately register the marriage of the petitioners without insisting or awaiting approval of the competent district authority with regard to conversion of faith.
“The UCC is necessity and mandatorily required today. It cannot be made ‘purely voluntary’ as was observed by B.R. Ambedkar 75 years back, in view of the apprehension and fear expressed by the members of the minority community,” the court said.
Justice Suneet Kumar said it is the need of the hour that the Parliament comes up with a “single family code” to protect interfaith couples from being “hounded as criminals”.
“The stage has reached that the Parliament should intervene and examine as to whether the country requires multiplicity of marriage and registration laws or the parties to a marriage should be brought under the umbrella of single-family code,” the court observed.
The standing counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government pointed out that the petitioners’ marriage could not be registered without an enquiry by the district authority as they did not get the mandatory approval from district magistrate before converting to the faith of their partner for the purpose of marriage. The petitioners’ counsel, however, asserted that citizens have the right to choose their partner and faith; and the conversion took place out of free will.
The bench then observed that “Marriage is just an association of two persons recognized by law. There is nothing ‘special’ about marriage to subject it under different laws for various communities, thus erecting barriers in the free intermingling of the citizens. The petitioners herein cannot be hounded as criminals.”
The court later directed the marriage registrar or officer of the petitioners’ districts to immediately register the marriage of the petitioners without insisting or awaiting approval of the competent district authority with regard to the conversion of faith.