The Delhi High Court today sought to know the Centre's stand on a PIL seeking quashing of a provision in the civil law prohibiting the arrest or detention of women for default of bank loan payments on the grounds that it violates the principle of equality in the Constitution. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also issued notice to the Law Commission of India and directed them to file their reply before the next date of hearing, February 6. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking quashing of Section 56 of the Code of Civil Procedure (prohibits arrest of detention of women in the execution of the decree for the payment of money). It sought that the provision be declared ultra vires as it violates Articles 14 (equality before law) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex orplace of birth) of the Indian Constitution. The plea filed by Anil Kumar alleged that the section gives "unequal and unreasonable protection" to women and that the provision was being misused. It said that now it has become fashionable "that people, by taking advantage of Section 56 of the Code of Civil Procedure, are intentionally cheating and causing wrongful loss to the banks and NBFCs (non-banking financial companies) by not replaying vehicles, property or personal loans". "Women have been taking loans in personal capacity and for the recovery of money, banks and NBFCs have to spend a lot of money in filing the civil proceedings against the defaulters... "These women are taking an undue advantage of Section 56 due to its discrimination.
Women defaulters are well aware that they are protected by section 56 and no recovery of money could be effected without fear of arrest or detention," the plea alleged. Section 56 of the Code of Civil Procedure is against the basis structure of the Constitution where the discrimination and the inequality is totally prohibited on the basis of sex, race and religion, the plea contended.