Uniform Civil Code: Triple Talaq debate, Polygamy issue, etc.

Need of uniform civil code

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UCC

Mains level : Read the attached story

Context

  • The Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, the so-called “common civil code” of Goa, is in the news again. A 28-member parliamentary standing committee headed by senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member, Sushil Kumar Modi, recently visited the state to study it in the context of the demand for a uniform civil code.
  • India Needs Uniform Civil Code; One Nation, One Law Will Restore Equality and Gender Parity

Definition

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

Importance of article 44

  • 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.

Brief history of UCC

  • The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.

Objectives of UCC:

  • Bringing simplicity in personal laws: When enacted the code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and others.
  • Uniformity across country: The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all.  The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
  • National integration: The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Babasaheb Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity.

Why it is needed now

  • To counter the gender disparity produced by specific personal laws: India has a history of severely patriarchal and misogynistic traditions perpetuated by society and ancient religious norms that continue to dominate family life.
  • Plugging the loopholes in legal system: By legalising personal laws, we’ve established a parallel court system based on thousands of ancient values. By eliminating all loopholes, the universal civil code would tip the balance in favour of society.
  • Reaffirming equality to everyone: While Muslims are permitted to marry many times in India, a Hindu or a Christian will face prosecution for doing the same. Similarly, there are significant disparities between many religious-related regulations.
  • Addressing problem of vote bank politics: If all religions are subject to the same laws, there will be no room for politicising issues of discrimination, concessions, or special privileges enjoyed by a particular community on the basis of their religious personal laws.
  • Infusing secularism: At the moment, we practise selective secularism, which means that we are secular in some areas but not in others. A Uniform Civil Code requires all citizens of India to adhere to the same set of laws, regardless of whether they follow Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Sikhism.

SC verdict on UCC: Daniel Latifi Case

This case demonstrates how universally applicable law should prevail over unjust religious laws. In this case, Muslim Women’s Act (MWA) was challenged for violation of Articles 14, 15 & 21 of the Constitution. The primary point of contention was the amount paid throughout the iddat period. The Supreme Court upheld the act’s constitutionality but interpreted it in accordance with Section 125 of the CrPC, holding that the amount received by a wife during the iddat period should be sufficient to support her during the iddat period as well as for the remainder of her life or until she remarries.

 

Challenges ahead in its application

  • Less education to understand this: India is a country of a diverse culture where the beliefs of the people are too vehement but with the right communication and education to all the religious groups, the implementation can take place efficiently and effectively.
  • Apprehension of some people: Fear of the certain section of society who are subjected to the special rights, shall be addressed since such rights will have no impact or interference by enactment of the Uniform Civil Code, which shall be ensured to the society as this is one of their Fundamental Rights as under Article 15 of the Indian Constitution.

Case study of Goa:

It is pertinent to note that the State of Goa is the first State to implement a uniform civil code since its liberation from the Portuguese in 1961. The Supreme Court has even hailed Goa as a shining example where the uniform civil code is applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.

Conclusion

  • With so much diversity, India needs something like a UCC which can work as an agent to promote uniformity and to some extent mute the sound pollution created by the religious radical forces.
  • On individual level, it is important to understand UCC is with the objective of One Nation, One Lawsided by oneness among the people rather than a mere tool to overcome oppression and discrimination against women or a target on a particular religion.

Try this question:

 

What is uniform civil code? Do you think that right time has arrived to implement it? Discuss challenges in its implementation with your suggestions to overcome the same.

 

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