Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India
Bench: Kuldip Singh (J)
Citation: 1995 AIR 1531
Subject: Need of a Uniform Civil Code
The Case has 5 petitioners under a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India :
- Sarla Mudgal – President of “KALYANI” a society for welfare of families and women in distress.
- Meena Mathur – Wife of Jitender Mathur and had three kids with her husband. Jitender Mathur changed his religion and solemnised marriage with one Sunita @ Fatima after converting into Islam specifically to marry Sunita @ Fatima.
- Sunita @ Fatima – The new wife of Jitender Mathur is also an aggrieved party as Jitender Mathur after having a son with Sunita, left her saying that he has to maintain his previous wife and three kids and he again changed his religion to Hindu. Sunita is claiming that she has no remedy under her personal laws and Jitender Mathur is to paying her any maintenance.
- Geeta Rani – Wife of Pradeep Kumar under Hindu Laws. Pradeep Kumar allegedly used to beat her and at one such instance broke her jaw as well and later ran away with one Deepa and married her after changing her religion.
- Sushmita Ghosh – Wife of GC Ghosh, who asked her if she would give her a divorce on mutual grounds to which Sushmita Ghosh did not agree as she wanted to live with her husband. GC Ghosh told her that he had changed his religion to Islam and will marry one Vinita.
- Whether a Hindu husband, married under Hindu law, by embracing Islam, can solemnise second marriage under section 25 of the Indian Constitution?
- Whether the apostate husband would be guilty of the offence under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)?
The Doctrine of Indissolubility under Hindu Law which means that changing of religion does not automatically dissolve the marriage done under the said act. Marriage done under one personal law cannot be dissolved by another personal law just because the parties changed their religion. If it is allowed to dissolve a marriage merely by changing of religion, it will be ridiculous to the rights of the spouse who did not convert into other religion. Conversion can only be a ground for divorce under Section 13(1)(ii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Till the former Marriage is not dissolved as per the act under which the marriage was done, another Marriage will be void if Personal laws don’t specify otherwise. The second marriage of a Hindu husband after embracing Islam will be violative of justice, equity and good conscience and would be void on such grounds while also attracting the provisions of Section 494, IPC. Natural Justice is also violated by such practices.
Uniform Civil Code:
The court in this case highlighted the importance of a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. Article 44 is needed as it based on the concept that there is no connection between religion and personal law in a civilized society and seeks to introduce a uniform personal law which is a decisive step towards national consolidation..
For the criticism against the Uniform Civil Code the court said that if the non-implementation of the Uniform Civil Code amounts to grave failure of Indian democracy, the positive side of the code cannot be ignored which will promote homogeneity and national solidarity.