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Uniform Civil Code � India's Requirement

India is a diverse country with multiple religions and ethnicities living within border. Presence of this variety of religions is reflected in our legal system too. As India have religion based personal laws. In India different religions have their own different personal laws, Here personal laws subjects like marriage, divorce, maintenance after divorce, transfer of property, inheritance, etc.

And this has been matter of debate for generations that substitution of all these personal laws with Uniform Civil Code.

What is uniform civil code?

Uniform civil code is a set of integrated personal laws which will be use to regulate the personals matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, succession, transfer of property, adoption etc. to all citizens of India irrespective of their religion and all the individuals of the country shall be regulated equally under a single National Civil Code.

According to our constitution Hindus and Muslims have their different personal laws:

  1. For Hindus:

    The Hindu personal laws which were codified in 1956 by Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Some main features of the bill is that it:
    • legalized divorce
    • opposed polygamy
    • gave rights of inheritance to daughters.

      Further this code bill is split into 4 parts:
      • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
      • The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
      • The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
      • The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
  2. For Muslims:

    Muslims of India were still regulated by primarily unmodified and traditional approach guided by The Shariat Law of 1937[1].

    In this it is clearly state that state shall not disturb the personal matters of Muslims and only religious authorities can pass a declaration which will be based on Muslim holy books Quran and Hadith.
  3. For Christians:

    Indian Christians Marriage Act 1872

Existence Of Uniform Civil Code In Constitution Of India

Uniform Civil Code is present in Part IV, Article 44[2] of Indian Constitution.
Article 44 states that:
The State shall endeavour to secure the citizen a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.

Part IV of Indian constitution deals with the Directive Principles of State policy. However Article 37[3] of Constitution itself makes it clear that DPSP shall not be enforced by any court but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.

Indian Judiciary On UCC

Since there are number of cases where Supreme Court and other Courts referred Article 44 and the concept of UCC mainly to highlight the lacklustre of attitude of the Executive and Legislature in the implementation of directive.

Debate for requirement of UCC majorly begin from the SHAH BANO CASE 1985.

Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum (1985)[4]
In this case:- A 73-year-old woman called Shah Bano was divorced by her husband using triple talaq (saying I divorce thee three times) and was denied maintenance. She approached the courts and the District Court and the High Court ruled in her favour. This led to her husband appealing to the Supreme Court saying that he had fulfilled all his obligations under Islamic law. The Supreme Court ruled in her favour in 1985 under the maintenance of wives, children and parents provision (Section 125) of the All India Criminal Code, which applied to all citizens irrespective of religion.

Further, Supreme Court recommended that a uniform civil code be set up.
Impact - After this historic decision, nationwide discussions, meetings and agitations were held. The then government under pressure passed The Muslim Women's (Right to protection on divorce) Act (MWA) in 1986, which made Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code inapplicable to Muslim women.

Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India (1995)[5]
In this case, the question was whether a Hindu husband married under the Hindu law, by embracing Islam, can solemnise a second marriage. The court held that the Hindu marriage solemnized under Hindu law can only be dissolved on any of the grounds specified under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Conversion to Islam and marrying again, would not by itself dissolve the Hindu marriage under the act and thus, a second marriage solemnized after converting to Islam would be an offence under section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Do India Need Unifor Civil Code

This is being a matter of debate over generations. Those who were in favour argue that this will defeat the discrimination on the basis of religion and those who were against it argue that this will destroy the nation of its religious diversities and it violates the fundamental right of right to practice religion enshrined in Article 25 of Indian Constitution, in fact they contend that it is against democracy.

India need UCC, as different personal laws promotes communalism and this leads to discrimination at two levels
  • Between people of different religions
  • Between sexes
As personal laws are misogynist in nature as almost personal laws are based on very old scriptures and personal laws allow these old rules to regulate family life. Due to this old religious laws individuals of society especially women were suffering from a long time. Experts believe that implementation of UCC will help the condition of women in society.

Uniform Civil Code in India have to face some challenges before and after implementation of it but it has various positive outcomes like- it will unite the citizens of whole country irrespective of their religion, sex or tribe under a common a national civil code. Personal Laws are a Loophole- By allowing personal laws we have constituted an alternate judicial system that still operates on thousands of years old values. A uniform civil code would change that.

UCC will promote real Secularism � what we have today in our country is partial secularism that means some areas are secular and in others we aren't. Implementation of UCC will be promote the atmosphere of real secularism, that means all citizens have to follow same set of laws whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian or of any religion.

Effect of UCC on Judiciary system
UCC will help in simplification of laws as in Indian Judiciary system there are too many laws exist like Hindu code Bill, Shariat Law, etc. Presence of so many laws creates confusion, complexity and inconsistencies in the adjudication of personal matters, at times leading to delayed justice or no justice. And UCC will results to reduce the overlapping of laws.
Since from a long time due to these overlapping and confusion between laws results long run of cases. As result there are over three crore cases pending across the Supreme Court, the High Courts, and the subordinate courts (including district courts).

Gender Equality
In todays modern world where we are talking about equality and the rights of women are usually limited under the patriarchal discourse through religious laws. UCC will liberate women from patriarchal domination and provide them with right to equality and liberty. In the long term, UCC would lead to the defeat of the communal and the divisionist forces.

Social � political Challenges

In the name of uniformity, the minorities fears that the culture of the majority is being imposed over them.

Given vast cultural diversity in India, bringing uniformity among all such people will be a huge challenge.

Patriarchal mindset of Indian society poses a big challenge in implementation of UCC. This can be reflected by the fact that, the Hindu code bill has been already in place from mid-1950s, yet the quantum of land actually inherited by Hindu women is only a fraction of the land they are entitled.

But here the question arises that whether regulation of relation between husband & wife, child & parent is interference in religion?
Implementation of UCC does not effect the spiritual ceremonies and belief of any religion but it effect the human rights of individual. Meanwhile UCC means the modernization and humanization of personal laws and It will de-link law form religion.

Goa Civil Code

Goa is the only Indian state where a Uniform Civil Code is applied for common family laws. India got independence on 1947 but Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule in 1961. During Portuguese rule family matters were regulated under Portuguese Civil Code and wasn't replaced after its liberation.

Some of the features of GCC:
  1. It allows equal distribution of property and income between husband and wife and between children irrespective of gender.
  2. Every birth, marriage, death should compulsorily registered. For Divorce, there are several provisions.
  3. Muslims who were registered their marriages in Goa cannot practice polygamy.
  4. In the case of divorce each spouse is entitled to half of property and in case of death property will distribute equally in each member of family.
However, the GCC has some certain drawbacks as well and it is not a proper uniform code. For example, if wife of a Hindu men fails to deliver a child by the age of 25, or she fails to give birth a male child by the age of 30 then the men have right to practice bigamy and this is mentioned in Codes of usages and Customs of Gentile Hindus of Goa, otherwise no one have right to perform bigamy in Goa.

Since from a long period of time various courts referred UCC to be implemented in India, but no government had shown courage to touch these personal laws.

Five PIL's were filed seeking a Uniform Civil Code by - BJP leader Ashwini Ku. Upadhyay, lawyer Abhinav Bedi, Firoz Bhakt Ahmed ( the chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University) and grand nephew of 1st education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Amber Zaidi and recently by Nighat Abbass in Delhi High Court.
The petitions came up for hearing before a bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar.

The 5 petitions are sought direction to constitute a judicial commission or a high level expert committee to draft UCC within 3 months, while considering the best practices of all religion including uniform minimum age of marriage, ground of divorce, maintenance alimony, adoption, guardianship, succession and inheritance and seeks civil laws of developed countries and international conventions.

In the end I would conclude that the vision and perspective of implementation of UCC in India is to regulate or govern the citizens of India equally despite of their religion, so that each individual living in the territory of India will feel equal and secular. Although it would remove gender discrimination on the grounds of religion from our system and it will make Judiciary more efficient and fast as well.

At last, I strongly support the implementation of UCC and standardization of the personal laws. I support it because it is need of the moment in India and it is the time that India must integrate its personal laws and come up with a standard set of personal laws which is beneficial for every citizen of India and promotes equality in every sections of the country and make country more integrated and unite.

  1. The Muslim personal laws (SHARIAT) Application Act, 1937, No. 26 of 1937
  2. Constitution of India 1950, part iv Article 44
  3. Constitution of India 1950, Article 37
  4. Mohd Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum, (1985) AIR 945
  5. Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India, (1995) AIR 1531

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