The concept of ‘Uniform Civil Code’ is based on the timeless and universal principle of equality before the law. Thus, UCC means one law and one nation. No distinction between majority and minority community. Equal rights and same laws for all in all civil matter and discrimination against none. Article 44 of the Constitution of India stipulates that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
Uniform Civil Code places a group of laws to control personal business of all citizens regardless of religion is probably the necessity of the hour and ensuring that their fundamental and Constitutional rights are protected. It’s the common set of governing rules for all citizens of India which refers to exchange the private laws (based on religious scriptures and customs). These laws are well-known for law and canopy marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance. In fact, Goa features a common family law, thus being the sole Indian state to possess a consistent civil code and 1954 Special Marriage Act allows any citizen to marry outside the realm of any special religious personal law.
The British Government in 1840 on the idea of Lex Loci report had framed Uniform laws for crimes, evidence, and contract but personal laws of Hindus and Muslims were left by them somewhere intentionally. On the opposite hand, the British India Judiciary provided for the appliance of Hindu, Muslim, and English law by the British Judges. Also, in those days reformers were raising voice to border laws associated with women against the discrimination done by them basically under religious customs like Sati, etc.
Constituent Assembly was found out to border our Constitution in 1946 in Independent India which consists of both sorts of members: those that wanted to reform the society by adopting the Uniform Civil Code like Dr. B. R Ambedkar and others like Muslim representatives who perpetuate personal laws. Also, the proponents of the Uniform Civil Code were opposed by the minority communities within the Constituent Assembly. As a result, just one line is added within the Constitution under Article 44 partially IV of DPSP (Directive Principles of State Policy).
SHAH BANO CASE
Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum mainly referred to as Shah Bano Case. During this case, in 1985, Shah Bano moved to Supreme Court for seeking maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure when her husband divorced her after 40 years of marriage by giving triple talaq and denied her regular maintenance. The Supreme Court gave the decision in favour of Shah Bano by applying section 125 of the Indian Criminal Code and it’s applied to all or any citizens regardless of religion. Then Judge, Y.V Chandrachud, observed that a standard Civil Code would help the explanation for national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law. And so, the court directed Parliament to border a UCC.
On the opposite hand, Rajiv Gandhi Government wasn’t satisfied from the court decision; rather than supporting it, the govt enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to nullify the Supreme Court judgement in Shah Bano Case and let the Muslim Personal Law prevail in a divorce matter. During this act, it had been mentioned that Muslim woman has right for maintenance just for three months after the divorce i.e. iddat then shifted her maintenance to her relatives or Wakf Board.
NEED OF UCC
As Common Civil Code would put in situ a group of laws to control personal business of all citizens regardless of religion is probably the necessity of the hour. In fact, it’s the cornerstone of true secularism. Such a progressive reform wouldn’t only help end discrimination against women on religious grounds but also strengthen the secular fabric of the country and promote unity. There’s a requirement to reform our social organization, which is filled with inequities, discriminations, and other things that conflict with our Fundamental Rights. As we all know that there’s a Criminal Code that’s applicable to all or any people regardless of religion, caste, tribe and domicile within the country but there’s no similar code associated with divorce and succession which are governed by Personal laws.
The need for UCC is said to inconsistencies in Tax laws. Like in Hindu Undivided Families they’re exempted from taxes whereas Muslims are exempted from paying stamps duty on gift deeds and also it deals with the matter of Honour killings by extra-constitutional bodies like KhapPanchayats.
As we’ve seen that the success of the contentious bill to ban instant triple talaq is now punishable. Suddenly the likelihood of a UCC, though by no means a simple task but it doesn’t appear as unachievable. Also, more aspects of private laws are likely to be haunted for scrutiny which marks the incremental progress towards UCC. Moreover, the government’s decision in reference to Article 370 is additionally a monumental decision towards national integration.
CONS OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
- Thanks to diversity in India, it’s somewhere tough to return up with a standard and uniform set of rules but our Government is trying to return up with common rules.
- Several communities, mainly minority communities perceive the Uniform Civil Code as an encroachment on their rights to spiritual freedom.
- In personal business, interference of the state. Because the constitution provides for the proper to freedom of faith of one’s choice. But with the codification of uniform rules and its compulsion may reduce the scope of the liberty of faith.
- To bring UCC may be a sensitive and hard task but not impossible.
According to my point of view for a perfect state UCC would be a perfect safeguard of citizen’s rights. Their adoptions are going to be progressive legislation. With changing times, the necessity has arisen for having a standard Civil Code for all citizens, regardless of religion, ensuring that their fundamental and Constitutional rights are protected. Even Secularism and National Integrity also can be strengthened by introducing UCC.
In the end, we should always recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “I don’t expect India of my dreams to develop one religion, i.e. to be wholly Christian or wholly Mussalman, but i would like it to be wholly tolerant, with its religion working side-by-side with one another”.
- THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA AN INDEPTH ANALYSIS, BY DEVAANG SAVLA & TANMAY SADH
AIR 1985 SC 945
 THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973; ACT NO. 2 OF 1974 ( India)