File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

A Study: Uniform Civil Code In India

Everyone is equal in the eyes of law, however, there are some laws that treat citizens differently based on their religion and faith. They are called personal laws. Every area of life demands and prefers consistency, thus rules are enacted to maintain it. However, laws are not as coherent as we think they are.

The Uniform Civil Code calls for the formulation of one law to be made applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption. Uniform Civil Code is a proposal in India to formulate and implement personal laws of citizens which apply on all citizens equally regardless of their religion, sex, gender and sexual orientation. Currently, personal laws of various communities are governed by the personal laws of each community enacted by the government.

The idea of a Uniform Civil Code comes from Article 44 (one of the Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution, which provides that the State shall endeavour to secure for all citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. It states that- the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.[1]

The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable but for the moment it should remain voluntary.

And thus the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a part of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. It was incorporated in the Constitution as an aspect that would be fulfilled when the nation would be ready to accept it and the social acceptance to the UCC could be made.

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."

Criminal laws are applicable uniformly all over India no matter what the religious beliefs are. Civil laws are also more or less uniform in India apart from the personal laws of different religions that are mostly of domestic nature which mainly covers succession, marriages, adoption, guardianship, etc.

Need Of UCC

Simplification of laws:

If enacted, the code will aim to simplify laws that are currently divided based on religious practices , such as the Hindu Marriages Act, 1955, , Shariat law, and others. The code will make the complicated regulations of marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions easier to understand and apply to every citizen uniformly.

Gender Equality:

Regardless of faith, all personal laws discriminate against women in some way. A Christian woman, for example, could not get a divorce because her husband had indulged in adultery. Cruelty, bestiality, and sodomy were all required. Christian husbands, on the other hand, could simply declare their wife to be an adulteress and they are divorced.

Similarly, according to Mitakshara, a school of Hindu law that governs inheritance, the girls were denied joint heirship in the paternal property. Hindu girls were only awarded equal rights in the family property after the Lata Mittal case (filed in 1985).

Individual women from various communities have challenged the law's constitutionality. In the courts, there are discriminatory features of personal legislation. Their main concern is the prospect of forced marriage, as well as homicidal attacks in circumstances of inter-caste, inter-class, and inter-generational conflicts. Even as they deal with issues like adultery, bigamy, and property conflicts, they have to deal with inter-religious weddings and property disputes.

Various judicial decisions back this up:

The Supreme Court stated in the Shah Bano case (1985) [2]that the Parliament should define the parameters of a single civil code since it is an instrument that promotes national peace and equality before the law. In this case a Muslim lady Shah Bano filed a case in Supreme Court of India. She stayed with her husband for forty years but she was only provided with 3 months of alimony according to the Muslim personal law.

Court ruled in her favour resulting in serious backlashes from Muslim community which in turn forced the government to pass Muslim Women Protection Act (1986) which overturned the Supreme Court's verdict.

The Supreme Court, in the Sarla Mudgal case of 1995, [3]reaffirmed the need for Congress to enact a Uniform Civil Code, which would aid national unification by removing ideological conflicts.

Others: Rather than differentiating rules based on religious practices, a secular republic requires a common law that applies to all citizens.

Many religious practices are incompatible with the fundamental rights granted by the Indian Constitution. In India, the lack of a UCC is jeopardising the country's chances of general development.

UCC in Indian States

UCC in Goa:

Goa is the only state in India which follows Uniform Civil Code. Goa Civil Code or Goa Family Law was authorised by the parliament according to the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867 after the Goa Daman and Diu administration act 1962.

The law provides for compulsory registration of marriages before a civil authority, ensuring that the wife is an equal inheritor and is entitled to half of the "common assets" including those inherited by her husband in the case of a divorce (in the absence of a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise) and that the parents must compulsorily share at least half of the property with their children including daughters.[4]

Registration of marriage is necessary so that disputes can be solved by process of law. Property shall be divided equally among male and female members without any discrimination.

In Goa, the Special Marriage Act (1954) applies differently. Muslim men whose marriages are registered do not have the right to polygamy in Goa. The property and wealth owned by each spouse are equally divided amongst the spouses during the course of the marriage. In the case of divorce, each spouse is entitled to half of the property and in the case of death of both the spouses, the property is equally divided amongst the surviving members.

Status of UCC in Uttarakhand

Pushkar Singh Dhami, the Chief Minister of Uttrakhand, has stated unequivocally that he intends to implement the Uniform Civil Code as stated in his manifesto, igniting heated debates as other states such as Assam have backed UCC and stated that they will soon implement it in their respective states.

CM Pushkar Dhami also chaired a state cabinet meeting to draft Uniform Civil Code of Uttrakhand He assured that UCC would be unbiased and free from the influence of any religion. An Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code Committee has been set up to draft UCC for Uttarakhand state and remove personal laws headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.

The committee will examine laws pertaining to personal civil matters of residents and will draft new laws as well as suggest some changes in the existing statues. Committee will also prepare a report on implementation of UCC. A website had been launched by the committee to seek public opinion on the issue and Committee appealed to the residents of Uttarakhand and Uttarakhand based organizations including government agencies, non-government organizations, social groups & communities, religious bodies and political parties, to forward their opinions, views, suggestions and representations on this matter.

Central Government v. State Government:
Are State Government empowered to legislate upon Uniform Civil Code?

It has been a matter of debate in recent times whether states are empowered to legislate on Uniform Civil Code. Various experts have divided opinion on this matter. India is a union of states where there is division of powers among the central and the state government. Schedule VII of the constitution of India provides three lists viz: Union List, State List and Concurrent List.

Central government makes laws on matters listed in the union list, the state government makes laws on matters listed in the state list and both central and state governments can make laws on the matters listed in the concurrent list. In regard to the Uniform Civil Code, it refers to a common set of laws governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance and more.

These matters have been enumerated in the Concurrent List (Entry No. 5) which means the power to legislate rests both with the parliament and state legislature. State governments can make laws for the communities living in the state. However, it is unclear whether the same be stretched to include the UCC for a particular state under its ambit.

Some experts such as PDT Achary opined that both central and state governments are empowered to legislate on UCC as matters such as divorce, marriages and inheritance are a part of the concurrent list of the constitution. States can make laws for the communities living in that particular state. "That means local variations can be recognized through a law made by the state government,"

Former Union Law Secretary, PK Malhotra is of the opinion that only the central government is empowered to make laws on UCC as Article 44 of the Constitution clearly refers to all the citizens of India. In the case of Goa, it must be noted that it was in existence before it became an integral part of India.

Ashwini Upadhyay, a BJP leader filed a PIL in 2019 before Delhi High Court to formulate UCC. After more than two years, the Ministry of Law and Justice filed a 12-page affidavit, as per which only Parliament can draft legislation on UCC. The Central government further stated that it will consult various stakeholders involved in the matter, after receiving a report from the Law Commission of India.

In 2019, the Supreme Court also expressed its disappointment over lack of implementation of UCC throughout the country. "Whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard.

Though Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country despite exhortations of this Court in the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano and Sarla Mudgal & Ors. vs. Union of India &Ors."[5]

Despite being the subject matter of parliament, the Supreme Court continues to entertain various PILs regarding key issues of UCC. The supreme court has issued notice to the government on the need for uniform laws for all citizens across religious faiths on matters of divorce, maintenance, alimony, adoption, guardianship, succession and inheritance.

In July 2021, Justice Pratibha M. Singh of Delhi High Court observed:
"The need for a Uniform Civil Code as envisioned under Article 44, has been reiterated from time to time by the Supreme Court.

Cases like the present one repeatedly highlight the need for such a Code - 'common to all', which would enable uniform principles being applied in respect of aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession etc., so that settled principles, safeguards and procedures can be laid down and citizens are not made to struggle due to the conflicts and contradictions in various personal laws."

As these arguments show, it is clear that it is Parliament that needs to take up Uniform Civil Code, and not the state legislature. Any claim to the contrary is a mere illusion and not a credible effort towards fulfilling the goals of the Constitution.

To conclude, reading into Article 44 of the constitution, it is the duty of the state to implement the UCC throughout India keeping in mind the best interest of the country and its citizens. It should not be randomly implemented and applied as it will cause prejudice to the integrity and unified diversity of the country amounting to breach of fundamental rights.

Framers of the Constitution had cleverly kept the concept of UCC within the ambit of DPSP giving importance to the diversified society. It can also be concluded that Article 44 of the constitution even if implemented, enforcement should be made only a after thorough analysis of the social, economic and culture of the states and not as a whole, like raising the marriageable age of girl child to 21 from 18 may not cause jeopardy to the citizens or societies.

Last but not the least, the legislature and the judiciary needs to keep in mind all the above challenges while enacting, implementing, and interpreting the UCC as the success of the UCC lies in the decisions of the parliament and judiciary.

  1. India Constitution Article 44.
  2. Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, (1985) 2 SCC 556.
  3. Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, (1995) 3 SCC 635.
  4. Gerard de Souza,Explained: The Goa civil code, the new model for a uniform civil code,The Hindustan Times,6th December 2022,
  5. Jose Paulo Coutinho v. Maria Luiza Valentina Pereira, (2019) 20 SCC 85.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly