UNIFORM CIVIL CODE

Definition:

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution provides the Directive Principle of State Policy of Uniform Civil Code. It says that the State should take steps to implement a uniform civil code that would apply to every citizen of India.

Introduction:

India is the world’s largest democratic country with a population of more than 135 Crores people which usually hails from the 6 most practised religions in India, i.e. Hindu, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, respectively.  Apart from the religious factor, the Indian population is also distinguished on the grounds of language, domicile, culture, etc. Religion is the foundation of culture, custom, tradition and therefore it is a difficult task to abandon the long-practised customs for any religion. [1]

The debate over UCC has triggered much public debate on the grounds of eliminating gender discrimination and bestowing ‘one nation one policy’. The Indian judiciary has also regularly emphasized enacting a UCC. While many personal Hindu laws have been codified in the 1950s the Muslim laws are not codified comparatively.[2]

Historical Background

The historical background of the Uniform Civil Code in India lies in the British administration over India. They gradually took control of the whole of India. Before that different rulers used to rule different parts of the Indian territory. Mughals, however, gained control over a large part of India but uniform laws were never made applicable to rule the entire country. When the Britishers ruled over India, the major problem they were facing was ruling a country with diverse communities having diverse sets of beliefs. The other problem they faced was that the law and moral beliefs were mixed and the law was not separated. For solving this problem, the codification of laws was done.[3]

Advantages of UCC:

  • The discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, gender, etc can be prevented.
  • Prevention of violence against women and preserving the rights of women in India, since numerous personal laws like marriage, divorce, and succession of a certain religion are violative of fundamental rights of women
  • UCC will also cease discrimination in subject matters of succession, inheritance, marriage, divorce, adoption, and guardianship, etc,

Judgements on UCC:

In the case of Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India (1995), the Supreme Court of India directed the Ministry of Law and Justice to reflect the steps taken and efforts made, by the Government of India, towards securing a “uniform civil code” for the citizens of India.

In the case of John Vallamattom and Ors. v. Union of India (2003), The Supreme Court of India held that there is no necessary connection between religious and personal law in a civilized society. It is no matter of doubt that marriage, succession, and the like matters of a secular character cannot be brought within the guarantee enshrined under Articles 25 and Article 26 of the Constitution. Any legislation which brings succession and the like matters of secular character within the ambit of Articles 25 and 26 is suspect.

In the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and Ors (1985), the Supreme Court of India held that Muslim women are entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and further ruled that “a uniform civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies” and directed the Government to enact a UCC.


[1] Rachit Garg, Uniform Civil Code : problems and prospects, Blogipleaders.com (July 26,2021), https://blog.ipleaders.in/uniform-civil-code-problems-prospects/#:~:text=Conclusion-,Introduction,of%20every%20religion%20in%20India.

[2] Ibid

[3] Rachit Garg, Does the Uniform Civil Code brings the uniformity in India, Blogipleaders.com (January 14, 2021), https://blog.ipleaders.in/uniform-civil-code-brings-uniformity-india/

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