Justice B. Sudheendra Kumar, a retired Judge of the Kerala High Court has said that political courage is needed to implement Article 44 of the Constitution of India and that he feels that the present government has that political courage. He said that he does not understand why there is such a delay in implementing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

Justice Sudheendra Kumar was speaking while inaugurating a debate last week in Ernakulam on the Uniform Civil Code, organised by the Bharatiya Abhibashaka Parishad, Ernakulam District Unit.

Justice B. Sudheendra Kumar retired from the Kerala High Court in May 2021. He served as the Registrar of the Supreme Court before being elevated to the High Court in April, 2015.

At the outset, Justice Sudheendra Kumar said that he is expressing his personal, independent view and that he supports the UCC. He said that he heard the ongoing discussions about the subject and he did not feel that UCC is being properly defended.

He said that Article 44 should be read with Article 37 of the Constitution of India and that it is obligatory on the part of the State to make laws in tune with the principles contained in Part 4 of the Constitution of India. He said that directive principles embody the concept of a welfare state and that they are meant for the purpose of social justice.

He said that secularism mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution entails treating all religions equally. He said that rights under Article 25 are not absolute and that Article 25(2) gives power to the State to reform religions.

Talking about Polygamy in Islam, Justice Kumar said that Section 494 of the IPC renders the second marriage of a person void if the first marriage is in existence. He said that though a Muslim man is exempted from this provision, even if a Hindu man converts to Islam, he will not get the same protection since his first marriage was under the Hindu Marriage Act.

He said that Polygamy is not morally justifiable since it is not in keeping with Gender Equality since a man can marry four women while a woman can only marry one man. "Gender discrimination means there is violation of Article 14 and this can be interfered with by the State", he said.

He said that there cannot be a distinction in criminal law based on religion, referring to the provision relating to adultery. "Is it permissible in Criminal law? Can there be such a distinction in Criminal law? Can there be any such categories of persons under Criminal law? It cannot be. All persons must be treated equally...That is why Uniform Civil Law is always recommended and it is high time for the State to implement it", he said.

With respect to the permissibility of marriage of girls below the age of 18 years as per personal laws, he also said that the POCSO Act protects the dignity of women. He said that child marriage under personal laws violates the dignity of girls and hence their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. "Under the guise of personal law, there is violation of Gender Equality, there is violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, there is violation of Article 15 and so the State has every right to get it reformed so that personal laws will be in accordance with morality, public order and health", he said.

"There must be political courage to implement Article 44 of the Constitution. I think the present government has it", Justice Kumar said.

He also said that it is the duty of each and every Lawyer to convince others about the need for Uniform Civil Code.