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Uniform Civil Code - A need of the hour

The contradicting nature of Article 15 and Article 25, 26 of the Indian constitution has been a hot topic of debates since the making of the constitution. The power to set personal laws by each religious denominations has at many times led to injustice to individuals, especially women.

In this paper, I have given my opinion and argued, citing various relevant cases in favourof the implementation of the uniform civil code. Various judgments of the recent history has implied for enforcement of an UCC which has been ignored by the parliament.

The Indian constitution gives us some very interesting set of guidelines which at times are contrasting in nature. While it talks about equality, on the other hand, it also entitles every religious denomination, to the power to manage their own personal affairs in matters of religion. As a result of this disparity, even after 73 years of independence, we still see instances of individuals being denied justice by their own personal laws framed by their respective religious denominations. To solve this issue, the UCC comes to the rescue. The proposition for a UCC for India to change the existing religious personal law system seems to be the source of a never-ending controversy.

The UCC refers to a single set of laws applicable to all citizens of India irrespective of their religion or any other division, in their personal or domestic matters such as marriage, divorce, custody, adoption and inheritance. These laws were intended to replace all the personal laws which currently govern the domestic matters within religious communities.

During the setting up of the Constituent Assembly in 1946, there were two types of members on the basis of their opinion regarding the implementation of UCC the ones including Dr.BR Ambedkar who supported the UCC and the others,mostly minority groups, who supported personal laws. As a result, it couldn't qualify as a law but remained as a DPSP (Directive principle of state policy) under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. Being a DPSP, it can not be enforced by the court of law.However, the courts can opine on it's application.

Demands of a UCC has been observed at various instances in the recent history. Notable instances were observed in the opinion of the apex court in favour of it while trying different cases. In Shah Bano Case, 1985 the Supreme Court gave the verdict in favour of Shah Bano who appealed to the court seeking maintenance after her husband divorced her by triple talaq after forty years of marriage and denied her regular maintenance, by applying section 125 of Crpc and also observed a Common Civil Code would help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law.

However, the ruling government was not satisfied by the order. The order was countered by the parliament by the enactment of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. In Sarla Mudgal Case, 1995 the question was whether a Hindu husband, married under the Hindu law, by embracing Islam can solemnize the second marriage. The supreme court held that adopting Islam for a second marriage is an abuse of personal laws and also directed the government under article 44 to form a uniform code.

Similarlyin John Vallamattom v. Union of India
, the petetioner filed a writ petition stating thatSection 118 of the Indian Succession Act was discriminatory against the Christians as it imposes unreasonable restrictions on their donation of property for the religious or charitable purpose by will. The Supreme court struck down the section declaring it to be unconstitutional and further directed the state to form an uniform civil code.

The enforcement of UCC however, has its own cons - Due to diversity, it is somewhere tough to come up with a uniform set of rules, several minority groups perceive this as an encroachment to their right to religious freedom, with the codification of uniform rules and its compulsion may reduce the scope of freedom of religion.Attempts at an UCC will undoubtedly be met with widespread protest.

According to my opinion, UCC must be applied in the cases where personal laws fail to provide justice. In this way, the human rights and religious rights of an individual won't encroach upon each other. This coexistence will also provide justice to women which the personal laws have failed do at various instances. Concluding my paper sharing a quote said by Dr.BR Ambedkar while forming the constitution.

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. After all, what are we having this liberty for?

  • Article 15 of the Indian Constitution-
  • Article 25 of Indian Constitution-
  • Shah Bano Case, 1985-
  • Sarla Mudgal Case, 1995 -,_%26_others._v._Union_of_India
  • John Vellamatom Case, 2003-

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Biswayan Bhattacharjee (1st Year, KIIT School of Law)
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: MA33469651707-29-0321

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