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Uniform civil code

Uniform civil code

  • According to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), all religious communities in India would be subject to one legislation that would govern issues including marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption.

Origin of Uniform Civil Code

  • Its origins can be traced back to colonial India, when the British government issued a report in 1835 that emphasised the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law with regard to crimes, evidence, and contracts and specifically advised against including personal laws of Hindus and Muslims in such a codification.
  • During the end of British administration, there was an increase in legislation addressing private matters, which prompted the establishment of the B N Rau Committee in 1941 to codify Hindu law.
    • The Hindu Law Committee's task was to investigate whether common Hindu laws were necessary. The committee proposed a codified Hindu law that would grant women equal rights in accordance with the scriptures. The 1937 Act was examined, and the committee suggested that Hindus have their own civil code for marriage and succession.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 44 states that the "State shall endeavour to provide for the citizens of its territory a uniform civil code (UCC)."

Inclusion in DPSP:

  • Due to the following factors, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) was incorporated in the Directive Principles rather than the fundamental Right that is upheld by the Court of Law:
  • Muslims in the Constituent Assembly were against it (CA).
  • The sorrow of the religiously motivated partition has not yet subsided.
  • B.R. Ambedkar advocated for a UCC in the Constituent Assembly but said that it should first remain voluntary.

Judgments

  • Ms. Jordan Diengdeh case: 
      • The Supreme Court had ordered in 1985 that the Ministry of Law be given notice of the decision in Ms. Jordan Diengdeh so that proper action may be taken.
      • It is unknown what actions have been taken in this regard to date, but more than three decades have passed since then.
      • The comments on the UCC were made in response to a petition that questioned whether the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 applied to a couple from the Meena group.
  • Sarla Mudgal Vs Union of India (1995): 
      • According to the court's ruling, a Hindu marriage that has been solemnised in accordance with Hindu law may only be annulled on one of the grounds listed in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.
      • A second marriage that is solemnised after converting to Islam would be unlawful under section 494 of the Indian Criminal Code since it would not automatically invalidate the Hindu marriage under the legislation (IPC).
  • John Vallamathon Vs Union of India (2013): Provide a unified civil code for all of India for the benefit of its citizens.
  • Shah Bano Case (2017): The Supreme Court (SC) proclaimed Triple Talaq (talaq-e-bidat) to be unlawful and constituted it a crime.

Significance and need of UCC

  • Uniform Principles: Common Code would make it possible to apply uniform principles to topics like marriage, divorce, succession, and other related issues, allowing settled principles, safeguards, and procedures to be established and preventing citizens from dealing with inconsistencies and conflicts in various personal laws.
  • Promotion of secularism: 
  • True secularism is based on a single set of laws that apply to everyone's personal affairs, regardless of religion.
      • It would support the nation's secular fabric and assist in putting an end to gender discrimination based on religion.
  • Protection of Vulnerable & Women’s Rights: It will defend the weaker facets of society.
      • Personal laws have been used to discriminate against women in the name of sociocultural and religious traditions.
      • Hence, UCC may unite all communities to guarantee women's rights to a life of dignity and control over their bodies as well as their lives.
  • Reduced Discord: There is a probability that it will increase peace in the community and decrease riots if and when everyone begins to abide by the same laws.
  • Prevents religion-based discrimination: Personal laws provide distinctions based on a person's faith. Those who believe they have been unfairly treated will receive justice under a single statute with the same restrictions respecting marital affairs.
  • Ending unjust customs and traditions: A single, unified, and reasonable personal law will aid in the eradication of many pervasive, harmful, and senseless conventions and traditions.
  • Remove vote bank politics: By choosing the UCC, one can break the political system's connection to religion, which divides voters according to caste, religion, and other factors.
  • Eases Administration: UCC would make it simple to manage India's enormous population base.
  • National integration: 
  • By removing varying allegiances to laws with opposing ideologies, a unified civil code will further the cause of national integration. 
      • Unquestionably, the State is responsible for ensuring that the nation's residents have access to an uniform civil code, and it has the legislative authority to do so.
  • Best Practice: Goa is apparently considered a "shining example" with a Uniform Civil Code, according to the Supreme Court, which justified the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867 in its ruling.

Challenges

  • Violation of fundamental rights: Religious organisations oppose a uniform civil code on the grounds that it would meddle with their internal affairs, which would be against the constitution's article 25 guarantee of fundamental rights.
  • Reduces diversity: By painting everyone in the same colour, it would lessen the diversity of the country. Tribes each have their own special traditions and rituals that reflect their culture. Tribals can experience an identity crisis if their traditions and practices are replaced with a single set of laws. This could exacerbate social unrest.
  • Communal politics: When put into practice, it would constitute a tyranny against the minority and cause significant turmoil in the nation. 
  • Threat to Multiculturalism: Multiculturalism gives Indian society a distinctive personality, and a single legal system would eliminate these distinctive features of this country.
  • Lacking Political Will: The UCC is a touchy subject, and political agreement on it is difficult to come by. The majority decision is significant in a multiparty democracy.
    • Political parties consistently consider minorities as vote banks, which makes it difficult to put the Uniform Civil Code into practise.

Conclusion

  • The Constitution's founding principles recognise diversity and make an effort to foster unity among persons of various denominations.
  • Although immensely desirable, a unified legal system may actually work against the country's integrity and unity.
  • So, only those aspects of customs and traditions that harm people should be incorporated into a single body of law.
  • Personal laws have certain equitable and beneficial features that should be included in the new, unified law.
  • The linked indigenous culture should be preserved but at the same time good customs and traditions should be upheld. It will aid India in maintaining its strength—unity in diversity.
  • In a democracy with the rule of law, reform and order must be brought about gradually.
  • The BJP government has already overcome more significant issues, such as the Ayodhya Conflict and the removal of Article 370, thus UCC may be implemented with enough political will.
  • Codification of all personal laws as suggested by the Law Commission-
    • It is possible to arrive at some universal principles that put equity ahead of the imposition of a Uniform Civil Code by codifying various personal laws.

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