The term Uniform Civil Code, originating from the Sanskrit term Samāna Nāgrika Saṃhitā, is a promise of secularism in India by the Preamble. It is also a source of dispute for many minority communities, including the Muslims, and various other conservative groups of the Indian society. The conflict arises due to demands of personal law from these groups owing to some personal religious beliefs and rituals.
There is a provision in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, within chapter IV named Directive Principles of State Policy that makes way for a condition for a uniform civil code in the entire geographical territory of India. The historical perspective of this code dates back to the debates in the colonial period in the country. In October 1840, the Lex Locireport drew attention to the urgency of making a uniform law concerning crimes, pieces of evidence and so on.
The condition of women in the colonial period was inadequate. There were several social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who took essential steps for minimizing the plight of women. The struggle for uniform civil code had already begun then.
In the post-colonial era, this code became more prominent in the hands of eminent Indian leaders, like Dr B.R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. This code also received the support of many women members of the then parliament. Irrespective of the severe criticisms that Dr B.R Ambedkar faced for his apparent dislike of upper castes, he pushed forward in his demand for a uniform civil code.
This code underwent several reforms in the time immemorial. Some of the significant reforms include the Hindu Code Bill that made divorces legal and made objections to polygamy, the succession act of1956 that made the daughters in the family an equal heir to ancestral property. Hindu marriage act, adoptions and maintenance act were some other reforms.
A case that is very intricately connected with uniform civil code is the Shah Bano case, in the year 1985. Shah Bano, a woman with 73years of age was a divorcee. Her husband used the triple talaq method. Apart from the divorce at such an age, she was also denied maintenance. When she moved to court, all the judgements came in her favour, and the demand for a uniform civil code strengthened.
As the Directive Principles of State Policy are not enforceable by courts, there has always been a lot of debate around the provision of uniform civil code. There exists a dualism in the constitution itself, as although it makes uniform civil code essential there is no way that this could be made mandatory.
There have been several arguments that are given in favour of this idea. With a uniform civil code, the country will make sure that the women receive more rights, the concept of secularism will cease to be a mere idea. Constitution will be able to implement it for each individual residing in the country.
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If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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