- Recently, the Allahabad High Court has called upon the Central government to initiate the process for implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
- The court’s direction came in the context of a bunch of 17 petitions filed by interfaith couples, who contracted marriage upon conversion, seeking protection of their life, liberty and privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- The marriage cannot be registered without the district authority making an enquiry as to whether the conversion is voluntary and not induced by coercion, allurement and threat.
- The Act mandates that the approval of the District Magistrate (DM) is necessary to be obtained before conversion or marriage.
- The Act makes religious conversion for marriage a non-bailable offence.
- The marriage registrar lacks the power to withhold the registration of marriage merely for the reason that the parties have not obtained the necessary approval of conversion from the district authority.
- The court directed the marriage registrar to forthwith register the marriage of such couples.
- The Court observed that such an approval is directory and not mandatory.
- The Act would not satisfy the test of reasonableness and fairness, and would fail to pass the muster of Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty).
- It observed that the consent of the family or the community or the clan or the State or executive is not necessary, once two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock which is lawful and legal.
- The court directed the police of the respective districts to ensure the safety of these couples.
- Further, the court urged the central government to make a law implementing the UCC, so that such atrocities are not repeated.
- This is because after implementation there will be less need for anti-conversion laws.
- The government and society will have to work hard to build trust, but more importantly, make common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives.
- Rather than an omnibus approach, the government could bring separate aspects such as marriage, adoption, succession and maintenance into a UCC in stages.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT