Daily News Analysis

Uniform Civil Code

25th November, 2021 Polity

     

Figure 1: No Copyright Infringement Intended

Context:

  • Allahabad High Court has called upon the Central government to initiate the process for uniform civil code implementation.

Observation of the Court:

  • “A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies. 
  • It is the State which is charged with the duty of securing a uniform civil code for the citizens of the country.

 

About Uniform Civil Code:

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC)in India proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen.

 

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The constitution has a provision for Uniform Civil Code in Article 44 as a Directive Principle of State Policywhich states that “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

 

Uniformity of Codes in India:

  • Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters — Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act, etc.
  • States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and, therefore, in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
  • Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.

 

Merits of Uniform Civil Code

  • National Integration: A unified code is imperative, both for the protection of the vulnerable sections in Indian society(women and religious minorities) and for the promotion of national unity and solidarity.
  • Simplification of laws: There exists so many personal laws like Hindu code bill, Shariat law, etc. Presence of so many laws creates confusion, complexity and inconsistencies in the adjudication of personal matters, at times leading to delayed justice or no justice. UCC will eliminate this overlapping of laws.
  • Simplification of Indian legal system: UCC will lead to reduction in litigation emanating from multiple personal laws.
  • Establishing a secular society: UCC will de-link law from religion which is a very desirable objective to achieve in a secular and socialist pattern of society. Moreover, it fulfill constitutional mandates under Article 44 of Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • Gender justice: The rights of women are usually limited under the patriarchal discourse through religious laws.UCC will liberate women from patriarchal domination and provide them with right to equality and liberty.

 

Challenges with UCC:

  • Lack of consensus: There is generally lack of consensus among the political party regarding the feasibility of UCC.
  • It denies Freedom of religion which is in violation of article 25.
  • It seeks to replace personal law system which is in violation of article 26.
  • Threatens Plurality in danger- UCC will robe away religious identity & diversity in India
  • UCC is not fits in typical “Indian Secularism Framework”- which supports & enables religious rights rather than inhibiting them.
  • It leads to conflict between personal laws and individual fundamental rights.

 

Secularism and UCC

The principle of UCC essentially involves the question of secularism.

  • Many experts argue that personal laws are the part and parcel of religion and culture. Any interference with the personal laws would tantamount to interference with the very way of life of those who had been observing such laws from generation to generation.
  • State must not do anything which hinder the religious and cultural ethos of the people.
  • While others argue that Uniform Civil Code is not opposed to secularism and will not violate Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 44 of the Constitution of India is based on the concept that there is no necessary connection between religion and personal laws in the civilized society.
  • It has also been argued that right to religious freedom did not extend to freeing secular dimensions of religion from the law of the land.

 

Way Forward:

  • To realize the goals of the DPSP and to maintain the uniformity of laws, the following suggestions need immediate consideration:
  • A progressive and broadminded outlook should be encouraged among the people to understand the spirit of the UCC. For this, education, awareness and sensitisation programmes must be taken up.
  • The Uniform Civil Code should be drafted keeping in mind the best interest of all the religions.
  • A committee of eminent jurists should be constituted to maintain uniformity and care must be taken not to hurt the sentiments of any particular community.