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Constitution of India-Articles 13, 14, 15 and 32-Scope of-Power of the Court-Legislative policy relating to personal laws-Interference by courts- Extent of-Personal Laws. Three writ petitions were filed by different organisations under Article 32 of the Constitution of India as public interest litigation. The Ahmedabad Women Action Group prayed for the following reliefs in its writ petition :- (a) to declare Muslim Personal Law which allows polygamy as void offending Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution; (b) to describe Muslim Personal Law which enables a Muslim male to give unilateral Talaq to his wife without her consent and without resort to judicial process of courts, as void, offending Articles 13, 14 and 15 of the Constitution. (c) to declare that the mere fact that a Muslim husband takes more than one wife is an act of cruelty within the meaning of Clause YIII (f) of Section 2 of Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939. (d) to declare that Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 is void infringing Articles 14 and 15. (e) to further declare that the provisions of Sunni and Shia laws of inheritance which discriminate against females in their share as compared to the share of males of the same status, void as discriminating against females only on the ground of sex. In the writ petition filed by Lok Sewak Sangh, the following reliefs were prayed for- (a) to declare Sections 2(2), 5(ii) & (iii), 6 and Explanation to Section 30 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, as void offending Articles 14 and 15 read with Article 13 of the Constitution of India; (b) to declare Section (2) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, as void offending Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India; (c) to declare Sections 3(2), 6 and 9 of Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act read with Sections 6 of Guardians and Wards Act as void; (d) to declare the unfettered and absolute discretion allowed to a Hindu spouse to make testamentary disposition without providing for an ascertained share of his or her spouse and dependent, void. Similarly in their writ petition, the Young Women Christian Association sought for a declaration that Section 10 and 34 of Indian Divorce Act and Sections 43 to 48 of Indian Succession Act are void. =Dismissing the writ petitions, this Court HELD : 1.1. The Legislature is responsible for the welfare of the State and it is for them to lay down the policy that the State should pursue. Therefore, it is for them to determine what legislation to put up on the statute book in order to advance the welfare of the State. The Courts are not concerned with the proprietory of their views or their wisdom. [395-F] 1.2. The Courts can at best advise and focus attention on the State policy on the problem and shake it from its slumber, goading it to awaken, march and reach the goal. For, in whatever measure be the concern of the court, it compulsively needs to apply, somewhere and at sometime, breaks to its self-motion, described in judicial parlance as self-restraint. Maharshi Avadhesh v. Union of India, [1994] Supp. 1 SCC 715; Reynold Rajamani & Anr. v. Union of India & Anr., [1982] 2 SCC 474; Pannalal Bansilal & Ors. v. State of A.P. & Anr., [1996] 2 SCC 498 and Madhu Kishwar & Ors. v. State of Bihar & Ors., [1996] 5 SCC 125, relied on. 2. The Constitution of India itself recognises the existence of per-sonal laws in terms when it deals with the topic falling under personal law in item 5 in the Concurrent List-List III. Yet the framers of the Constitution did not wish that the provisions of the personal laws should be challenged by reason of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution and so they did not intend to include these personal laws within the definition of the expression laws in force.” Therefore, the personal laws do not fall within Article 13(f) at all. [399-D-G] Slate of Bombay v. Narasu Appa Mali, AIR (1952) Bom. 84, cited. Krishna Singh v. Mathura Ahir & Ors., AIR (1980) SC 707, relied on. Sarla Mudgal & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. [1995] 3 SCC 635, distinguished. 3. There is no substance in the challenge by the petitioner to the vires of the provisions of Section 10 of the Indian Divorce Act as being discriminatory, and therefore, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. [404-E] Anil Kumar Mahsi v. Union of India & Anr. [1994] 5 SCC 704, followed. 4. So far as the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 is concerned, the said issue is pending before a Constitution Bench of this Court. Therefore, there is no reason to multiply proceedings in that behalf. [404-F] CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION : Writ Petition (C) No. 494 of 1996 Etc. =1997 AIR 3614, 1997( 2 )SCR 389, 1997( 3 )SCC 573, 1997( 2 )SCALE381 , 1997( 3 )JT 171

PETITIONER: AHMEDABAD WOMEN ACTION GROUP (AWAG) & ORS. Vs. RESPONDENT: UNION OF INDIA DATE OF JUDGMENT: 24/02/1997 BENCH: CJI, SUJATA V. MANOHAR, K. VENKATASWAMIW I T HWRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 196 OF 1996LOK SEVAK SANGH & ORS.V.UNION OF INDIAW I T HWRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 721 OF 1996YOUNG WOMAN CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (YWCA) & ORS.V.UNION OF … Continue reading

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