Why India should have Uniform Civil Code

Constitutional Provision

Article 44 in Part IV of The Constitution of India reads as follows:-

“The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

Meaning of Uniform Civil Code

The term civil code is used to cover the entire laws governing rights relating to property, marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance. The uniform civil code essentially means unifying all these personal laws to have one set of law irrespective of the community & religion. No other Country can boast of as wide cultural diversity as India can hence UCC is the urgent need of present time.

Need for Uniform Civil Code

  1. Personal laws are inconsistent with our declaration in Preamble of the Constitution of India: “To constitute India into Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.
  2. It is almost impossible to secure JUSTICE, social, economic and political; and EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; to all Indian citizens without a Uniform Civil Code.
  3. Marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance, adoption matters are of secular nature and can be better regulated by Uniform Civil Code.
  4. Enacting Uniform Civil Code will promote national integration.
  5. A Uniform Civil Code will reflect that, nation has moved away from discrimination on basis of caste, creed, religion, race, sex, place of birth and other similar considerations.
  6. Uniform Civil Code is necessary to promote fraternity, assuring dignity of individuals and unity and integrity of the nation.
  7. Uniform Civil Code was the dream of our constitution makers and it is the duty of the state to apply the principles laid down in Part-IV of the Constitution of India.
  8. Uniform Civil Code would be a major step in achieving gender justice and equality.
  9. Many personal laws are unjust, unfair, inhumane, discriminatory and unconstitutional. Citizens cannot be discriminated on the ground of religions, race, caste, sex and birthplace.
  10. Different personal laws for different communities creates unnecessary burden on the legal system. Bringing Uniform Civil Code would reduce and help in simplifying many technicalities and loopholes, present in existing personal laws.

Benefits of Uniform Civil Code

  1. It Will Help in Reducing Vote Bank Politics-

The execution of Uniform Civil Code will promote real secularism. As of now, India has selective secularism which suggests that in some areas people are secular while in others they are not. A uniform civil code will mandate all Indians to follow the same laws. At the same time, it will not restrict the freedom of people to pursue their religion.

  1. All Indians will be treated same & equally-

Uniform Civil Code is a fair and equitable Directive Principle of the Constitution of India which is not backed by religion hence Uniform Civil Code will meet country constitutional mandate of equality of all religions.

  1. Negate Extra Constitutional Authorities like Fatwa’s and Khap Panchayat

It will help negate the illegal’s orders like Fatwa and Khap Panchayats orders which have no legal sanctity. Fatwa is being misused by the various people whose ranks are above in hierarchy. Sometimes orders of Khap Panchayats are passed by ignoring every aspect of law.

  1. Discriminatory & Oppressive Personal laws will end-

Uniform civil code implies the uniformity in the personal laws of various sections of society which are currently controlled by religion specific personal laws for example Muslim Law, Christian law etc. are discriminatory against women. In Muslims multiple marriage is allowed to only males are abrogations of basic human rights of equality. Women from all community including Muslim are also against it and have opposed such religious laws in India.

  1. It Will Integrate India-

It has the potential to foster national integration, only if process of its implementation is just and fair.

  1.       It will give more rights to the women-

Triple Talaq, no rights to maintenance and subordinate rights of inheritance are sins in society and can only be removed by Uniform Civil Code only. Lakhs of Muslim women have recently sought support to abolish the “heinous” practice of ‘triple talaq’, which they have termed an “un-Quranic” practice. There are many other religious groups who follow their own personal laws and use them by twisting it as per their own wishes. The Indian judiciary has been consistent in its disapproval of these extra-constitutional entities and their rulings.

Landmark Judgments of Supreme Court-

  1. Hon’ble Supreme Court  in Sarla Mudgal Vs UOI & Ors decided on 10 May, 1995 has held that:-

The Successive Governments till-date have been wholly re-miss in their duty of implementing the constitutional mandate under Article 44 of the Constitution of India.

We, therefore, request the Government of India through the Prime Minister of the country to have a fresh look at Article 44 of the Constitution of India and “endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throught the territory of India”.

We further direct the Government of India through Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice to file an affidavit of a responsible officer in this Court in August, 1996 indicating therein the steps taken and efforts made, by the Government of India, towards securing a “uniform civil code” for the citizens of India. Sahai, J. in his short and crisp supporting opinion has suggested some of the measures which can be undertaken by the Government in this respect.

  1. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum And Ors decided on 23 April, 1985 1985 AIR 945 has held that:-

“It is a matter of deep regret that some of the interveners who supported the appellant, took up an extreme position by displaying an unwarranted zeal to defeat the right to maintenance of women who are unable to maintain themselves. The written submissions of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board have gone to the length of asserting that it is irrelevant to inquire as to how a Muslim divorce should maintain herself. The facile answer of the Board is (that the Personal Law has devised the system of Mahr to meet the requirements of women and if a woman is indigent, she must look to her relations, including nephew and cousins, to support her. This is a most unreasonable view of law as well as life.“

  1. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Lily Thomas Vs UOI & Ors. decided on 5 April, 2000 in (2000) 6 SCC 224 has held that:-

Sahai, J. in his separate but concurring judgment referred to the necessity for a Uniform Civil Code and said. (SCC p. 652, para 44) …The desirability of uniform code can hardly be doubted. But it can concretize only when social climate is properly built up by elite of the society, statesmen amongst leaders who instead of gaining personal mileage rise above and awaken the masses to accept the change.’ Sahai, J. was of the opinion that while it was desirable to have a Uniform Civil Code, the time was yet not ripe and the issue should entrusted to the Law Commission which may examine the same in consultation with the Minorities Commission. That is why when the Court drew up the final order Sigrid by both the learned judges it said “the writ petitions are allowed in terms of the answer to the questions posed/in the opinion of Kuldip Singh, J”. These questions we have extracted earlier and the decision was confined to conclusions reached thereon whereas the observations on the desirability of enacting the Uniform Civil Code were incidentally made.

Uniform Civil Code is already implemented in India in State Goa with immense success.

The Goa Civil Code, also called the Goa Family Law, is the set of civil laws that governs the residents of the Indian state of Goa. In India, as a whole, there are religion-specific civil codes that separately govern adherents of different religions. Goa is an exception to that rule, in that a single code governs all Goans, irrespective of religionethnicity or linguistic affiliation.

  1. A married couple jointly holds ownership of all the assets owned (before themarriage) or acquired (after the marriage) by each spouse. In case of a divorce, each spouse is entitled to a half share of the assets. However, the law also allows antenuptial agreements, which may state a different division of assets in case of a divorce. These agreements also allow the spouses to hold the assets acquired before marriage separately. Such agreements cannot be changed or revoked. A married person cannot sell the property without the consent of his/her spouse.
  2. The parents cannotdisinherit their children entirely. At least half of their property has to be passed on to the children compulsorily. This inherited property must be shared equally among the children.
  3. Muslim men, who have their marriages registered in Goa, cannot practice polygamy. There is no provision for a verbal divorce & triple talaq.

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