The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country.
The UCC aims to protect the vulnerable sections including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fillings through unity. When enacted the code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and other religious beliefs.
The code will simplify the complex laws pertaining to marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions making them one for all and all for one. The same civil laws will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith, religion, caste, sex, etc.
The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 saying that there was a need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.
A committee was formed under B N Rau to codify Hindu law in 1941. The task of the Hindu Law Committee was to examine the question of the necessity of common Hindu laws. The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women. The 1937 Act was reviewed and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.
Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable but for the moment it should remain voluntary but with time the various governments it’s an issue of debate that it should be adopted or not as a legal way.
Why UCC is needed?
A common civil code would help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws having conflicting ideologies and religions.
As UCC will promote gender justice by removing the inbuilt discriminatory provisions of personal laws.
In the Shah Bano case of 1985, the Supreme Court said: “The hope expressed in Article 44 of the Constitution that the State shall secure for its citizens Uniform Civil Code ought not to remain a mere hope.”
It’s a questionable fact that personal law practices should prevail over the fundamental rights of life, dignity, and non-discrimination.
Delhi High Court Said The modern Indian society was “gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community, and caste are slowly dissipating” and thus UCC must be brought as soon as possible.
To fulfill Article 44 of the Constitution provides that the state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956; there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country from all religions.
The Goa model of UCC can be implemented as there is already enforcement of UCC in Goa.
Why UCC is not needed?
Some believe that the UCC would deny the freedom of religion. It was this uncertainty that led it to be included in the Directive Principles of State Policy rather than the chapter on Fundamental Rights in the Constitution.
Article 28 Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.
Article 29 provides that freedom to religious matters and Protection of interests of minorities.
UCC is against the essence of democracy. As we are in a secular state, it is after all, an enabler of rights rather than an inhibitor in sensitive matters of religion and personal laws.
It may not be possible to lay down any rigid time frame on the issue of implementing uniform civil code in the country in view of the sensitivity involved related to religion.
In 2018, a Law Commission of India consultation paper had said that the Uniform Civil Code is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage” in the country. As secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
It will reduce the diversity of the nation by painting everyone in one colour. Tribals have their unique customs and traditions as per their culture. Replacing their customs and traditions with a unified law may lead to the identity crisis of the tribals. This may further lead to social tension in the country.
Threat to Multiculturalism as Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
In a Democracy, the rule of law should prevail and any change should be gradual as well as progressive and the judicial orders must be inducted into the laws too (If found necessary). Instant change can create disturbances in society, so the need of the hour is bringing it in time when all stakeholders are involved with their futuristic views.
This article is written by;
Mr. Pankaj Kumar Gupta
(Email ID: [email protected])