Uniform Civil Code
A Uniform Civil Code would provide a single body of legislation for the entire nation that would apply to all religious sects in things pertaining to their private lives, such as adoption, inheritance, and marriage. According to Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), the government must make every effort to provide UCCs for its residents across the entire country of India.
The word “Uniform Civil Code” is clearly included in Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. In this article, we will discuss the Uniform Civil Code which will is an important topic of the Polity Subject of the UPSC Syllabus.
Uniform Civil Code Recent Update
The Law Commission of India just started the next round of consultations on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) on June 14, 2023, and they asked for opinions from both the general public and recognised religious institutions. The public has 30 days from the date of notice to make comments and recommendations to the commission.
The 22nd Law Commission decided that it would be best to revisit the topic since more than three years had passed after the release of the aforementioned consultation paper. This decision was made in light of the topic’s continued relevance and importance as well as the numerous judicial rulings on the matter. Those interested in expressing their opinions and making suggestions regarding the UCC can contact the commission via its website or the member-secretary’s email.
Uniform Civil Code Meaning
The word “uniform” refers to rules that apply equally to all residents regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, or affiliation with a particular religion. According to a national civil code that applies to all equally, a uniform civil code indicates that all segments of society, regardless of their religion, will be treated similarly. “The State shall Endeavour to secure for the Citizens a uniform civil code throughout the Territory of India,” reads Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. UCC stands for Uniform Civil Code in full. The Common Civil Code is mentioned in Article 44 of the Constitution.
Uniform Civil Code History
India’s colonial era saw discussions of a uniform civil code. As a result, it has a long history and got its start when the British government submitted a report in 1835 calling for the codification of Indian laws in a standard manner to facilitate the administration of justice. Prior to independence (during the colonial era), criminal laws were codified and made universally applicable. While the personal laws were still governed by several community-specific ordinances.
The Indian Constitution was written during the Post-Colonial period (1947–1985). The opposition from religious fanatics and the uninformed masses was a major factor in the notable leaders’ campaign for a uniform civil code. The Hindu Code Bill, Succession Act, Hindu Marriage Act, Minority and Guardianship Act, and Adoptions and Maintenance Act, to name a few, were some of the reforms that were implemented at that time.
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Uniform Civil Code and Historical Cases
The origins of UCC date back to the 19th century, when the country’s leaders emphasized the necessity for uniformity in the codification of Indian law with regard to crimes, evidence, and contracts but particularly advised against codifying the personal laws of Hindus and Muslims. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had mixed feelings on the matter and believed that UCC was merely a suggestion rather than an imposition. “I do not think that the time is ripe in India at the present moment for me to try to push it through,” Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru stated. Check the cases related to UCC below:
Shah Bano Case
The Shah Bano case, also known as Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, was brought before the Indian Supreme Court for the first time in the year 1985. The court instructed Parliament to draught a Uniform Civil Code in connection with the case. Shah Bano’s case was about obtaining maintenance money from her husband after she had triple talaq in accordance with Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Muslim Women (Right to Protection on Divorce) Act of 1986, however, allowed the government to overturn the judgment in her case. According to this Act, a Muslim woman was not permitted to request maintenance under the earlier Act. By 2017, Triple Talaq, also known as talaq-e-bidat in the community, had been declared unconstitutional and illegal.
Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India
The Sarla Mudgal Case, which raised the issue of bigamy and disagreement over marriage-related issues within the current personal laws, was another significant case that gained attention. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 states that just one of the grounds enumerated therein may be used to dissolve a Hindu marriage that has been solemnized in conformity with Hindu law, according to the court. Since the Hindu marriage is not immediately void under the law, a second marriage that is solemnized after converting to Islam would be prohibited under section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
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Uniform Civil Code in India
According to a national civil code that is uniformly applied to everyone, all social classes, regardless of their religious affiliation, must be treated equally. They address topics like marriage, divorce, child support, inheritance, adoption, and property succession. It is predicated on the idea that in contemporary culture, there is no relationship between religion and the law. According to Article 44, which is consistent with the Directive Principles of State Policy, the State shall make every effort to offer its citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) over the whole territory of India.
Uniform Civil Code Need
A Uniform Civil Code is important for uniting the nation because it is full of a variety of different religions, cultures, and practices. The same objective was accomplished by independence, but the uniform civil code offers far more benefits. To bring all Indians from various castes, faiths, and tribes under one roof, a single national civil code of behaviour will be observed. With no form of prejudice and everyone feeling like one, equality would be the rage. By upholding the straightforward legal system that would benefit everyone, this would increase humankind’s power and greatness and make the nation much stronger.
The concept of a uniform civil code meant that all citizens would be subject to the same set of rules, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or religion they practice. This is due to the fact that most personal laws are founded on the religious texts and other materials of many communities, which greatly divides society. Therefore, adherence to a single common law was required under the unified civil code, regardless of one’s membership in a particular community or their choice of religious practice.
Uniform Civil Code Benefits
- National Integration and Secularism: UCC will encourage secularism and national integration by giving all citizens a shared identity and sense of belonging. Additionally, it would lessen intercommoned and interreligious disputes brought on by various personal laws. It would uphold the constitutional principles of inclusivity, equality, and fraternity.
- Gender Justice and Equality: UCC will ensure gender justice and equality by eliminating the prejudice and repression that women experience as a result of many personal laws. In terms of marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, maintenance, etc., it would provide women the same rights and status as males. It would also provide women the power to fight against patriarchal and backwards-looking practises that violate their fundamental rights.
- Simplification and Rationalisation of the Legal System: By reducing the complexities and ambiguities of many personal laws, UCC will rationalise and simplify the legal system. By addressing the inconsistencies and gaps caused by disparate personal laws, it would reconcile the civil and criminal codes. The general public would have easier access to and comprehension of the law as a result.
- Modernisation and Reform of Outdated and Regressive Practices: The UCC would update and modernise the archaic and backwards practises that are common in several personal laws. It would end practises like triple talaq, polygamy, child marriage, etc. that are against the human rights and values established in the Indian Constitution. Additionally, it would take into account peoples’ evolving social realities and desires.
Uniform Civil Code in India Challenges
By upholding a single set of rules, the Uniform Civil Code brought people together, but many felt that it infringed their fundamental rights because it went against what was recognized as a component of such rights.
The equality right and the freedom of religion are at odds. The fundamental right to practice one’s religion is established by Article 25. Each religious denomination’s or section’s right to “conduct its own business in religious matters” is safeguarded under Article 26(b). Article 29 defines the right to preserve distinctive cultures.
Equality before the law is promised by articles 14 and 15 and these rights are irreconcilable. Additionally, according to Article 25, a person’s right to practice their religion is constrained by “public order, health, and morals.” The Uniform Civil Code is neither essential nor desirable at this time, according to a 2018 report by India’s Law Commission. The Commission contends that secularism and the nation’s diversity cannot be irreconcilable.
Minorities worry that, in the name of uniformity, the culture of the majority will be imposed upon them. It will be extremely difficult to bring all of these individuals together given the vast cultural variety of India. The adoption of the Uniform Civil Code is challenging because of the patriarchal outlook of Indian society. This may be observed in the fact that Hindu women only inherit a portion of the land to which they are entitled despite the Hindu Code Bill has been in place since the middle of the 1950s.
Uniform Civil Code UPSC
Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Parsi personal laws have been codified in India in a distinctive synthesis. There isn’t a single family law applicable to all Indians in a single statute book that is accepted by all of the coexisting religions in India. The bulk of them, however, concur that UCC is undeniably desirable and would greatly aid in the development and stabilization of Indian nationhood. There are divergent views regarding when and how it should be adopted. Students can read all the details related to UPSC by visiting the official website of StudyIQ UPSC Online Coaching.