According to Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, “The state shall endeavor to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.”
Uniform code has one of the societal need and demand from the times immemorial. With the coming of BJP led Modi Government, the controversial topic has again gained heat of the moment. With the Modi Government already fulfilling the two of the three of its main election agendas of abrogation of Article 370 and construction of Ram Mandir, the implementation of Uniform Civil Code seems to be the next in line, which was surely delayed due to the pandemic. Uniform Civil Code has always been a controversial topic in the country, with the communities dividing over the topic. But, now its implementation is not an option but a need, as our coming Generations should not suffer due to the difference in laws for the different religions. Now it’s high time that India should have its own Uniform Civil Code, which many developed countries USA, UK etc. have already implemented decades ago.
WHAT IS UNIFORM CIVIL CODE?
According to Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, “The state shall endeavor to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.” Uniform Civil code means that one law for the whole of the nation that will be applicable to all the religions in the personal matters despite the difference in their traditional customs and laws. Personal laws are differentiated from public laws as the former covers matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, inheritance etc. while the latter covers law and order. Presently different religions and communities in India have their own personal laws based on their religious scriptures and they are governed according to those laws. But this provision goes against the rule of equality before law.
Uniform Civil Code has its roots from the Colonial times when the British Government submitted its report in 1835 with the objective of emplacing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to the social sphere like marriage, crime, evidence, contracts etc. but particularly keeping the Hindu and Muslim personal laws out of its purview.
As the legislations dealing the personal laws of the various communities increased with the time, the codification of the same became strenuous for the British Government and it was compelled to form B. N. Rau committee, with the intention to codify the Hindu Law in 1941. The committee was established with the task to examine the need for command Hindu laws. The committee after carefully examine the scriptures recommended that a codified Hindu law would give equal rights to women and it also suggested a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.
MOHD. AHMED KHAN VS SHAH BANO BEGUM
The Shah Bano case is believed to be the turning point which made the topic of Uniform Civil Code enter into the pages of the Indian Politics. Shah Bano, a 62 year old Muslim woman, filed a petition against her divorced husband demanding maintenance. The couple got married in 1932 and had five kids, but Ahmed Khan granted her irrevocable talaq and also refused to pay the alimony. Due to this the wife moved to the Supreme Court. The question that hit everyone’s mind was that should all the citizens get equal protection of all laws in spite their own religious beliefs. But the Supreme Court have its judgment in the favor of the wife due to provision of Sec 125 of All India Criminal Code, which applied to all of the Indian citizens irrespective of their religion. But soon this opposition to this judgment by Conservative Islamist groups and Muslim members of INC came into play and the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, which made Sec 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code inapplicable to Muslim woman. This eventually led to the dilution of the judgment of the Supreme Court and restricted the right of Muslim divorced to the alimony only 90 days after divorce.
1. PROTECTION TO VULNERABLE SECTION OF SOCIETY: The Uniform Civil Code promises security to the vulnerable sections of the society which includes woman, children etc. as proposed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The Uniform Civil Code will also promote brotherhood and nationalist feeling among the members.
2. SIMPLIFICATION OF EXISTING LAWS: Once Uniform Civil Code is implemented, all the rest of the laws will be ceased leasing to simplification of personal laws for marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc. all the religions.
3. FOLLOWING THE IDEAL OF SECULARISM: The Uniform Civil Code follows the Uniform principle of Secularism as one single law for all the religions would let to less difference among the various religious communities.
4. PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY: Once the Uniform Civil Code comes into play, all the other religious laws that promote gender differentiation will cease to exist and only a single law which promotes gender equality will prevail.
1. DANGER OF COMMUNAL POLITICS: Although the concept of Uniform Civil Code strives to provide equality to all religions in matters of personal laws. But once it enters the political arena, it might be used as a weapon to target some particular religions.
2. HURDLES DUE TO ARTICLE 25 AND 14 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION: Article 25 and 14 is seen as a big hurdle.in the implementation of Uniform Civil Code as both these articles provide significant fundamental rights and cannot be ignored. Article 25 states the freedom to practice and propagate any religion and Article 14 provides equality before law.
3. DIVERSITY IN INDIA: It is though very difficult to come with a model of Uniform Civil Code that can fit well in the diversified India and please the different religions of the country as well.
4. INTERFERENCE OF STATE IN PERSONAL MATTERS: The state which itself has given its citizens freedom of religion can interfere in the personal matters of their religion. With the implementation of Uniform laws, one might think it as an interference in their freedom.
5. NOT THE SUITABLE TIME: With the Muslim Community being targeted over the issues of beef, love jihad and saffronization of school and college, the time might not be right for the implementation of Uniform laws
It’s high time that India should also have its Uniform Civil Code. Needless only a revolution can bring such a Uniform Civil Code, which would preserve India’s rich cultural heritage. But the implementation and codification of Uniform Civil Code may not bring equality among all the religions and genders as thought to bring. The present day institutions should be modernized and strengthen, so that they can bear this change and function well.
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