SC seeks Centre’s reply on uniform grounds of succession, inheritance

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought reply from the Centre on a PIL seeking gender and religion-neutral uniform grounds of succession and inheritance for citizens in the country.

A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian issued notice to the Ministries’ of Home Affairs, Law and Justice, and Women and Child Development on the plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

Senior Advocate Kiran Suri, appearing Upadhyay, argued the matter before the bench.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the court said tag the instant matter with a pending plea for uniform grounds of divorce.

The plea argued that succession and inheritance are crucial, as they impact on right to life, liberty and dignity, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“Even after 73 years of independence and 70 year of becoming sovereign socialist secular democratic republic; Centre has failed to provide gender neutral and religion neutral uniform grounds of succession & inheritance in spirit of the Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 and international conventions,” said the plea.

The petitioner argued that the existing personal laws are not only very complex and cumbersome but also against the goals of Preamble.

“Hindus Buddhists Sikhs and Jains are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and Christians, Parsis and Jews are governed by the Indian Succession Act 1925. Similarly, Muslims are governed by the Shariat Act, in which the share of female heir is half of the male heirs”, added the plea.

Upadhyay contended that discriminatory grounds of succession and inheritance not only reinforce patriarchal stereotypical notions but also contravene principles of gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women guaranteed.

The plea said in all developed countries, personal laws are confined to marriage rituals only and dissolution of marriage and other secular activities: maintenance-alimony, adoption-guardianship, succession – inheritance, marriage age and grounds of divorce are codified and uniform.

“Implementing uniform grounds of succession and inheritance will strengthen constitutional ethos, as laid down in Part-III and IV of the Constitution of India and regarded as the heart and soul of the Constitution,” the plea contended.

The plea said Goa is the shining example which has a uniform civil code.

The Goa family law is the set of civil laws, originally the Portuguese Civil Code, continued to be implemented even after its annexation.

“Having uniform law of succession and inheritance based on values and ethos of equality justice fraternity and scientific temper, will strengthen constitution spirit and cherishes what our founding fathers thought for India. However, due to vote bank and appeasement politics, Centre has not taken apposite steps till date,” added the plea.