Ex-Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi Takes Charge As Law Commision Chairperson

The Law Commission is expected to undertake a study of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a priority for the BJP ahead of 2024 general elections.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and retired Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi

Former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi on Wednesday took charge as the Chairperson of the 22nd Law Commission.

Awasthi was appointed as the Chairperson of the Law Commission on Monday. 

Notably, the current law panel was constituted on February 21, 2020, but its chairperson and members were appointed only on Monday, just months before the end of the panel's three-year term. 

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju met Awasthi and congratulated him as he took charge.

Awasthi is known for being on the Karnataka High Court bench that ruled that hijab is not an essential practice in Islam. 

The government has said the issue related to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) may be taken up by the 22nd law panel.

The Law Commission advises the government on complex legal issues.

Besides Awasthi, other members of the panel are: Justice KT Sankaran, Professor Anand Paliwal, Professor DP Verma, Professor Raka Arya, M Karunanithi.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey had raised the issue of the importance of having a UCC in a Zero Hour reference in December last year.

Responding to the issue, Rijiju wrote to Dubey in January, saying Article 44 of the Constitution provides that the state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a UCC throughout the territory of India. 

He said, "In view of the importance of the subject matter and sensitivity involved and it requiring in-depth study of the provisions of various personal laws governing different communities, a proposal to examine issues relating to uniform civil code and to make recommendations has been forwarded to the 21st Law Commission of India. The matter may be taken up by the 22nd Law Commission of India."

In June 2016, the Union law ministry had asked the 21st law panel to examine matters in relation to the UCC. After detailed research and a number of consultations held over the course of two years, the commission had issued a consultation paper on reform of family laws in India, just before its term ended.

The UCC has been a part of successive election manifestos of the BJP.

Days ahead of polling in Himachal Pradesh, BJP president JP Nadda had on Tuesday said a UCC will be implemented through the state level.

UCC is an important issue, and the party in power has to run the country very delicately, Nadda had said.

(With PTI inputs)