Need for a uniform civil code in India

In this article, I will explain about the uniform civil code (UCC) and why it is a need of the hour in India. Uniform civil code is a long time controversy which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

History behind uniform civil code (UCC)

India is a country that has a rich cultural heritage. The people that went into the making of Indian society were from different regions. Hence, India has an equally large variety of religions, languages, arts, architectures, customs and traditions. Major religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity have a certain set of living codes based on their holy texts which differ from one another. The British, who ruled India for 200 years, made attempts to change these different set of rules for different religions and tried to implement a uniform civil code to make the judicial system easier. Due to heavy criticism from the religious groups, British restrained from imposing a uniform civil code system. Instead, they have codified new laws called personal laws to provide justice to various religious communities. These personal laws deal with marriage, adoption, property inheritance and alimony. Indian constitution has nothing to do with these personal laws.

What is uniform civil code?

Uniform civil code is a proposal made by the government of India to remove the personal laws of various religions and impose a common uniform civil code throughout the country. If the uniform civil code is passed, the personal laws of various religions on civil matters like marriage, adoption, property inheritance and alimony will cease and a new set of uniform laws will replace them which will be common to the whole of India irrespective of religions.

Why do we need a uniform civil code in India?

  • Article 14 of Indian constitution states that all citizens of India are equal before the law and are equally protected by the law. But personal laws are different for different religions and so it directly collapses the basic structure of the Indian constitution. Hence, uniform civil code will ensure equality in India.

  • Article 15 of Indian constitution states that there should be no discrimination based on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. But the personal laws dominate women to a great extent. Personal laws show discrimination against women and pave way for male chauvinistic society. Hence, uniform civil code would nullify the grounds for discrimination.

  • Article 44 of Indian constitution orders the government to implement a uniform civil code all over India.

  • Different stances of personal laws on the same issues are condemnable. For example, Let us assume that a couple needs divorce. If it is a Hindu couple, based on Hindu marriage act, both the husband and wife have to live separately at least for 1 year and the court requires mutual consent to award divorce. If it is a Christian couple, it had to be lived separately for at least 2 years. If it is a Muslim couple, the husband can divorce the wife by 'Triple Talaq' method even without the consent of the wife. The Uniform civil code will impose a common law for divorce.

  • Similar to the above issue, the practice of Polygamy is a punishable offence based on the Hindu marriage act whereas the Sharia Law of Muslims legalised polygamy and a Muslim man can marry up to 4 wives. This is an absolute cruelty against women. But the uniform civil code will end such atrocities against the women by banning polygamy completely.

  • The property inheritance personal laws also discriminate women. The Hindu Law of Property was amended a few decades back to stop the discrimination against women and so it gives an equal share of the ancestral property to both the son and daughter. But the Sharia law of Muslims still discriminates women. The son receives 2/3 of the property and the daughter receives only 1/3. But the uniform civil code will protect the rights of the women by providing equal shares to both son and the daughter.

  • Women are denied alimony from the husband after their divorce based on the Sharia law. It is also a major cause which emphasis on the reason why uniform civil code is the need of the hour.

  • Personal laws fertilise communalism and regionalism. They stand as a threat to the integrity and unity of India. If uniform civil code law is passed, all the grounds for inequality, discrimination based on religion and sex, crimes against the women and threats to national security will come to an end. No one can use the loopholes called personal laws to escape from punishment.

Current Status of uniform civil code

The need for uniform civil code echoed all over India on the aftermath of the Supreme court verdict on the famous Shah Bano case. But, the ruling parties of the centre has been continuously postponing the codification of uniform civil code for their political advantage. One of the major reasons why the uniform civil code has not been implemented still is vote bank politics. But the current ruling NDA government has asked for the public opinion for the implementation of the uniform civil code.

Let us hope that the uniform civil code will be passed in real time soon.

Do you support uniform civil code? Do you have any other reasons why uniform civil code should be implemented? Share your views in the comment section.

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Author: NK SHARMA15 Oct 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

There is an urgent need to implement uniform civil code. Uniform civil code means all the civil laws should be applicable to all the citizen. We have already uniform criminal code (law) in the country, so why not civil laws. The reasons given in this article and the constitutional provisions mentioned are sufficient ground to implement the uniform civil codes. It will eliminate some evils from the society such as triple Talak, polygamy, control over the offspring. There can be two laws in a country - one for Hindu and the other for Muslims. Article 14 says that every citizen of India is equal before the law.

Author: Partha K.21 Oct 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

The author has raised an issue which is extremely important for the development of India. Before presenting my views, I would like to quote B.R. Ambedkar on the issue: "I personally do not understand why religion should be given this vast, expansive jurisdiction, so as to cover the whole of life and to prevent the legislature from encroaching upon that field.' Although Ambedkar was firmly in favour of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country, he could only put UCC in Directive Principles (Article 44 of the Constitution) instead of putting it Fundamental Rights, due to steadfast opposition from Nehru.

Why UCC is necessary?
Although author has covered the issue in great detail, the justifications of bringing UCC are as under:-
(a) To stop undue litigation among people of different communities.
(b) To avoid complications in inter-religious marriages between people of different communities.
(c) To stop child-marriages prevalent in a particular community.
(d) To avoid undue advantage given to Hindu community under Hindu Unidivided Family in terms of properties and taxation.
(e) To avoid communal tension on this ground.
(f) To bring all citizens of the country under the umbrella of a single law.
(g) UCC is in accordance with the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution of India.
(h) All developed countries and the Muslim countries (except five countries) follow Uniform Rules for their citizens.

Unfortunately, political leaders of many parties in India oppose the UCC due to their wrong conception that UCC would not help them to garner votes of a particular community. However, this perception is wrong and also detrimental to the progress of that community, particularly the women of that community.

Present position: Supreme Court has time and again stressed the need of bringing UCC in the country. The state of Goa has already adopted UCC without any problem. The Law Commission has sought the comments of people on UCC by circulation of a questionnaire. Immediately, some political leaders have started their divisive game.

We don't know when this much-needed Civil Law will come in India. However, I thank the author for this well-written article on this extremely relevant issue.

Author: Sheo Shankar Jha21 Oct 2016 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

Uniform Civil Code would eliminate all the obstacles hindering the progress of half of the population - the bevy of ladies. Different set of rules for Christians, Muslims and Hindus have been the root cause of agonies for these ladies. Despite the best education received by a Muslim lady, by pronouncing talaks repeatedly for three times would end their matrimonial - life and there is no room for the consideration / compromise at a later date. Her all innovativeness and positive qualities would not help her to enjoy the matrimonial happiness and so is the case with the Hindus and Christian ladies though they have different set of times for the separation.
Education is an essential component to be familiar with UCC so that their basic right is protected, however we Indian are less privileged in this area. How irony is that the girl - child living in villages are being married without letting them known what types of partners have been chosen for their marriages. Introduction of UCC in a uniform way would lead to a change conducive to the growth of the weaker sections. Implementation of UCC would pave the way of uniform distribution of the properties despite following different religions.
The writer has rightly stressed the need for the implementation of section 44 for the better benefit of the citizens. Sooner we could take the initiatives on that direction, the better.

Author: K Mohan27 Oct 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6

I am of the opinion that if we live in this country as a citizen the law must be equal to every one and there should not be favoritism. In the garb of religious rights and age old traditions one cannot take refuge under the Personal law which amounts to belittling the rights of other communities. By bringing Uniform Civil Code the government can ensure equal living condition for every citizen irrespective of their caste and creed. Since many decades the rulers at the center did not have the dare mind to even think about this issue because they were worried about the vote bank. But in the same communities those who are affected by triple talaq cases have only urged the present government to initiate bringing UCC to all. Now that the matter has been put to discussion in various forum and meetings, there has been hue and cry from the particular community that their rights are being mortgaged. But all these years they were enjoying a special status and thus given the fillip to raise population of this country. So there is every need to have UCC.

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