Plea In SC For Gender And Religion Neutral Law For Inheritance And Succession

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

“The desirability of uniform civil code can hardly be doubted”[i]

A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking removal of anomalies in the ground of succession and inheritance and make them gender-neutral, religion-neutral, and uniform for all citizens in the spirit of the Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 of the Constitution of India and International Conventions.

The petition has been filed by Advocate & social-political activist, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay alleging that the Centre has failed to provide even gender-neutral and religion-neutral uniform grounds of succession & inheritance for all citizens in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 & International Conventions[ii].

The petition stated that “Uniformity in succession and inheritance is not only necessary to secure gender justice, gender equality & dignity of women but also essential to promote fraternity, unity and national integration, but, Centre has not taken any steps in this regard till date. Therefore, a blatant form of discrimination that is the prejudice in the succession and inheritance based on gender and religion is continuing.”

Mr. Upadhyay through this petition further submits that, “The injury caused to the citizens is extremely large because gender-biased and religion biased personal laws relating to succession and inheritance are not only against the constitutional ethos of gender justice & gender equality, guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 but also against the dignity of women[iii], which is an important element of right life to life and liberty, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.”

He also stated that, “Goa is the shining example which has a uniform civil code, applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.[iv]

The petition has also sought to declare that the discriminatory grounds of succession and inheritance are violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution and frame gender-neutral, religion-neutral, uniform guidelines of succession and inheritance for all Indian citizens, and alternatively, direct the Law Commission of India to examine the Laws relating to succession & inheritance of the developed countries and International Conventions in this regard and prepare a report on ‘uniform grounds of succession and inheritance’ for all citizens in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21, 44 of the Constitution within 3 months.


[i] Lily Thomas v. Union of India [(2000) 6 SCC 224].

[ii] Article 5(a) of CEDAW obliges States parties to “take all appropriate measures to modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.

[iii] Joseph Shine v. Union of India [(2019) 3 SCC 39].

[iv] Jose Paulo Coutinho v. Maria Luiza Valentina Pereira [(2019) SCC ONLINE SC 1190].