New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre to introduce uniform grounds for maintenance and alimony for all citizens.
The plea was moved by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, seeking gender and religion neutral uniform grounds aligned with the spirit of the Constitution and international conventions.
The plea has urged the apex court to direct the Home Ministry and Law Ministry to remove the existing anomalies on the grounds for maintenance and alimony, and streamline them, to make them uniform for all citizens without discrimination on the basis of religion, race, sex or place of birth. The plea argued these improvements must be made in consonance with Articles 14, 15, 21 and 44.
The plea has argued that in the backdrop of articulate provisions in the Constitution, the Centre did not provide uniform grounds for maintenance and alimony for all citizens. “Alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of fundamental rights, the Court may declare that the discriminatory grounds of ‘Maintenance and Alimony’ are violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and International Conventions and frame ‘Gender Neutral Religion Neutral Uniform Guideline of Maintenance & Alimony’ for all citizens”, said the plea.
The plea contended that discriminatory maintenance and alimony are based on and reinforce patriarchal and stereotypical notions about women. “For this reason alone, it completely contravenes principles of gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women, guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21”, it said.
The petitioner argued that for many citizens, maintenance and alimony is the only source of livelihood, and in the backdrop of discrimination, it will directly attack the right to life, liberty and dignity, guaranteed under Article 21.
“Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act 1956. Muslims are dealt as per the status of valid marriage & prenuptial agreement and governed under the Muslim Women Act 1986. Christians are governed under the Indian Divorce Act 1869 and Parsis under the Parsi Marriage & Divorce Act 1936, but none of these laws are gender neutral,” it said.
The petitioner argued that under the same circumstances, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Parsi spouses get different alimony.
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