In general terms Uniform Civil Code means a general civil code for everyone e.g. a general civil code for inheritance, marriage and other personal matters as well as other civil matters.
Around 90% of civil matters are already governed by a common civil code e.g. Transfer of property act, Indian Contract Act, Sale of Goods Act, Code of Civil Procedure etc.
What is Uniformity?
Uniformity as accordingly is defined as “people who are equal should be governed by qual laws” i.e. equality among equals.
NOTE: If Uniform Civil Code if is to be implemented throughout the country, it will not be a uniform but a common code. And Article 44 has the word “uniform” and not “Common”
Article 44: – Uniform civil code for the citizens –
The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
When the subject of Uniform Civil Code was on debate in the parliament, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said that the meaning of article 44 is that parliament will try to make a uniform civil code for all and not to implement it by force against the will of the people.
Uniform Civil Code in India
India has already around 90% of the civil code common for all e.g. Transfer of Property Act, Code of Civil Procedure, Indian Contract Act, Sale of Goods Act etc.
When it comes to personal matters India has different laws for different religions for matters which are considered as personal i.e. Marriage, Inheritance etc.
Article 14: – Equality before law –
The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
When we interpret article 14, we advocate that equality is among equals and un-equals will not be treated alike but equals are to be treated alike i.e. there should be not equal law for un-equals.
Article 14 backs the idea of different personal law for different religions as they cannot be considered as equal religions.
NOTE: India also has a common code for personal matters too.
All these personal matters are codified in a common code i.e. Special Marriage Act 1954.
But majority of Indians opt for personal law rather then Special Marriage act for their personal matters.
The talk for Uniform Civil Code in India is as old as the creation of the country, but it is unique for India because of the vast variety of people and diversity of religions.
Uniform Civil Code is often seen as communal politics and a weapon to further isolate minority communities and religions.
People who mainly advocate for Uniform Civil Code propagate it for gender justice for women and protection from exploitation to vulnerable communities.
The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity. 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 etc. The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all. The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
Ambedkar in his speech in the Constituent Assembly had said, “No one need be apprehensive that if the State has the power, the State will immediately proceed to execute…that power in a manner may be found to be objectionable by the Muslims or by the Christians or by any other community. I think it would be a mad government if it did so.”
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