Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju also told in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the 22nd Law Commission can consider the matter related to the Uniform Civil Code.
He told that the government had requested the 21st Law Commission of India to examine various topics related to the Uniform Civil Code and give its suggestions on it.
Rijiju said that but the term of the 21st Law Commission ended on 31 August 2018.
He said, ‘According to the information received from the Law Commission, the matter related to the Uniform Civil Code can be taken up by the 22nd Law Commission for its consideration. Therefore, no decision has ever been taken on implementing the Uniform Civil Code.
The current Law Commission was constituted on February 21, 2020, but its chairman and members were appointed in November last year, months before the term of the commission was to end.
The 21st Law Commission examined various issues related to the Uniform Civil Code and uploaded a consultation paper titled ‘Reforms in Family Law’ on its website for wider discussion.
It may be known that the Uniform Civil Code has been one of the main issues of the Bharatiya Janata Party. It was one of the major election promises of the BJP in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Apart from Uttarakhand, the BJP governments of Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and Gujarat had talked about implementing it.
Some BJP-ruled states like Uttarakhand and Gujarat have taken steps towards its implementation. The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code was one of the major issues of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections held in November-December 2022.
The governments of Uttarakhand and Gujarat have formed committees to consider implementing a uniform civil code.
The committee was constituted in May 2022 by the Uttarakhand government under the chairmanship of retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. In December 2022, the term of the committee of experts to draft the Uniform Civil Code was extended by six months.
Under the Uniform Civil Code, matters of divorce, adoption, succession, custody, etc. will be treated equally for all citizens, irrespective of their religion or gender.
Several petitions are pending before the apex court to implement the Uniform Civil Code across the country. The Center has said that the issue of Uniform Civil Code comes under the purview of the state legislature.
In January last, the Supreme Court had dismissed a PIL challenging the decisions of the governments of those states to set up committees to implement the Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand and Gujarat.
The court had said that there is no basis in the petition and the constitution empowers the states to constitute such committees.
The court had said that the constitution of such committees by the states cannot be challenged by going beyond the purview of the constitution.
The court had said, ‘There is nothing wrong in setting up committees by the states under Article 162 of the Constitution. This article gives the executive the power to do so.
In December 2022, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said in the Rajya Sabha that states have the right to make personal laws governing issues such as succession, marriage and divorce in an effort to maintain a uniform civil code.
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