Based on the recent debate on the Uniform Civil Code, here is an article on the
Hindu Bill that was proposed but did not pass and the role of Ambedkar.
"I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women
have achieved ." - B.R Ambedkar
Secularism in the Indian context does not mean the separation of religion from
the state, but rather a benevolent neutrality towards all religions that are
treated equally. However, this universalist attitude exists alongside efforts to
reduce the prevalence of religion in society.
The 1950 constitution, heavily influenced by Nehru, did not recognize religious
communities, but only individuals, to whom Article 25 guaranteed "freedom of
conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion".
This ideal conception of religion as a private matter implied the limitation of
its sphere of influence by the influence of the state as an agent of
"modernization". Nehru's major achievement in this voluntarist perspective was
undoubtedly the Hindu Code Bill.
The Hindu code bill was introduced in the Constituent Assembly on 11 April 1947
and was referred by a select committee on 9 April 1948, after 4 years of
deliberations, it remained inconclusive. In his own words, he "killed and died
unused and unsung." This was probably the longest debate on any single bill in
the independent Indian Parliament. The Congress was not eager to clarify the
Hindu Code bill and because of this Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet on 27
September 1951 .
What was the need of a Codified Bill
The bill itself was an immense exodus from Hinduism and its humiliating set of
gender laws. Until then, "Hindu law" was also casually interpreted through the
oral reading of various contents from the Vedas, Smritis and Puranas. There was
no real codification or uniformity, and women's lives were often in the hands of
Hindu male interpreters. It can be said that in Hinduism there were two laws
regarding inheritance, marriage, adoption etc. which are "Mitakshra" and "Dayabhaga".
In the Mitakshra legal state, a man's property is not individual property, while
it belongs to the co-owners (shared ownership of the male line), in other words
as father, son, grandson and great-grandson, only from their birth. Whereas in
the Dayabhaga set of law, ownership of property has its individual character -
that is, whoever inherits property from his ancestors has an absolute right to
that property. This last element of the laws was adopted in the Hindu Code Bill
by Ambedkar, and efforts were made to make it common law by adapting it to the
needs of modern times.
Even in Dayabhaga , there was discrimination between female heirs based on their
status, whether they were married or unmarried and whether they had children or
not. The Hindu Code Bill further proposed to remove this discrimination.
Ambedkar placed the widow, daughter and widow of the deceased son in the same
place. To restore the equality of the sexes, a daughter's share, like that of a
son, was prescribed both in her father's property and in her husband's property.
She became an equal heir as son, widow, widow of a deceased son, son of a
deceased son of a deceased son and widow of a deceased son of a deceased son.
Notably, Ambedkar brought absolute equality between son and daughter when he
said that "the son also gets an equal share of the mother's property, even in
Stridhana (defined in Hindu law as wealth women receive as gifts from
Fight for Equality
Ambedkar's main concern for the status of women is reflected in the Hindu Code
Bill. He even noted that his work on the Hindu Code Bill would be as important
as his work on the Constitution itself.
The overall mission reflects strategic move to fight against the 'graded
inequality. Dr. Ambedkar had assured that campaign would be effective by
inclusion and from within than isolation or from outside, provided it would lead
to respectable reformation .
"To leave inequality between class and class , between sex and sex , which is
the soul of Hindu society untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to
economic problems is to make a farce of our constitution and to build a palace
on a dung heap . This is the significance I attached to the Hindu Code ."
Objectives of Hindu Code Bill:
Hindu Code Bill Controversy
- Codify the law relating to rights of property of deceased Hindu without
making a will (intestate) for both genders, son, and daughter
- Order of succession among the different heirs to the property of
- Law of maintenance, marriage, divorce, adoption, minatory and
The bill drew so many protests from upper caste groups such as the "Hindu Mahasabha
" and members of the house, and most members charged that the bill
would destroy the foundations of Hindu society on which it is built, especially
the sanctity of marriage and lineage. of the Hindu joint family system. The main
objective of this bill is to codify the rules of Hindu law which have been
scattered in countless decisions of the High Courts and the Privy Council,
leading to constant litigation. Many members of the House were worried about
their chances in the upcoming election to vote on banking policy.
Hindu nationalists were particularly outraged that the civil law reform
concerned only Hindus, while the constitution ordered (in Article 44 of the
Directive Principles) the state to give India a uniform civil code: hence
Mookerjee's statement that "the government dared not touch the Muslim
community". Nehru's secularism here suffered from a certain ambiguity, or at
least a gap, no doubt due to his efforts to appease the Muslims who chose to
remain in India. He was prepared to approve the right of civil courts to apply
Muslim personal law in cases involving Muslims.
In his view, majority society had obligations to minorities. As S. Gopal points
out, "He constantly insisted on the importance of generous treatment of the
minorities so that they felt like Indians and were completely at home." Such an
attitude could be denounced as anti-Hindu bias, while the RSS later described it
However, in the early 1950s, campaigns in this direction succeeded in getting
the Hindu Code Bill amended and a parliamentary vote delayed, but he failed to
mobilize broad support or even win the support of traditionalists in Congress.
Rajendra Prasad, who was elected President of the Republic in 1950, despaired of
the project, whose "new concepts and new ideas ... are not alien only to the
Hindu Law but can wreak havoc in every family." He argued that the reform
proposal should first be included in of the party's election program and
presented to voters before any debate in parliament.
Has anything changed:
Let's look at how we have moved and progressed as a society when Dr. Ambedkar
introduced equality and social mobility in the Hindu Code Bill as these
progressive reforms came under attack from the Brahmin ruling class. Due to
paucity of time let us look at the reform brought about by the Marriage Act and
how it is under attack by the Brahmin ruling class.
The whole purpose of the reform was to encourage inter-caste and sub-caste
marriages, according to the Indian Human Dev Survey (IDHS) released in 2014,
only 5% of marriages are inter-caste marriages. Even in this small number, the
brutality of inter-caste marriages has skyrocketed. Yes, the number of
inter-caste marriage killings increased from 28 to 251 between 2014 and 2016, a
jump of 750%.
The state of Tamil Nadu, which prides itself as a shining example of using
affirmative action to progress in areas like literacy, healthcare etc., has 80
murders registered, UP surpasses that with 131 murders, in most of these murders
oppressed Dalits and their families were victims.
Not only that, the Brahmin ruling class is hell-bent on destroying the freedom
guaranteed by the act of marriage. The Tamil Nadu government recently sent a
circular to all sub-registrars that couples who have to register their marriages
should bring consent from their parents, ironically, Tamil Nadu is the first
state to recognize self-respect marriage. without the presence of a Brahmin
priest in 1967 by the Dravidian party, imagine the situation in other states
that were lagging behind in literacy and development.
We need a uniform civil code because religion should not control the law and its
implementation. Religion comes with a pre-defined set of rules and norms which
are fixed and can never be changed according to the need of the hour. Religious
laws cannot be modified when future generations think it would be illogical to
have a certain set of laws.
If religion-based laws continue, the community of homosexual would have no place
in the world, sati will be allowed, widows cannot remarry, a thief's hand may be
cut off and he cannot atone for his crime and lead a better life in the future,
a man can marry more than one wife and men and women's would be forced to remain
in abusive marriages.
A democratic and a liberal society must ensure that citizens are protected by
laws that can be changed by consent if found incompatible with the times.Written By: Kaushiki Singh