NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea challenging the decision of Uttarakhand and Gujarat governments to constitute committees for the implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC). A bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud noted that the petition is challenging the constitution of committees set up by Gujarat and Uttarakhand to frame UCC.
The bench, also comprising justice P.S. Narasimha, told the petitioners’ counsel that Article 162 indicates that executive power of states extends to what legislature permits it to. “Constitution of the committee cannot be challenged as ultra vires…,” said the bench.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami welcomes the decision. “Our decision to implement the Uniform Civil Code was constitutional. Today, the top court of the country has also considered it as constitutional. I welcome this decision. Our committee is working on it, will make a draft soon and Uttarakhand state will implement it,” said Dhami, who had announced to implement the UCC in Uttarakhand ahead of the previous assembly election.
The top court today noted that the plea filed by Anoop Baranwal and others is devoid of merit. The Chief Justice said, “What is wrong with it? They have only constituted a committee under their executive powers that Article 162 gives…” The petitioners’ counsel urged the court to entertain the petition. The bench said, “Look at entry 5 of the concurrent list…”
The bench told the petitioners’ counsel that there was nothing wrong in state governments forming committees, as Article 162 of Constitution gives the power to the executive to do so.
The bench told the counsel, either he withdraws the petition, or it will be dismissed. Challenging the setting up of the committees, the counsel said it is unconstitutional. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court junked the plea.
The Uttarakhand government, in May last year, had constituted a 5-member panel led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai to prepare a draft proposal for implementation of UCC.
A batch of petitions are pending in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Central government to frame religion and gender-neutral uniform laws for adoption, divorce, succession, guardianship, inheritance, maintenance, marriage age, and alimony.
During a hearing, last week, the Centre had told the apex court that it is a matter of legislative policy. (With agency inputs)