UNIFORM CIVIL CODE- IS IT FEASIBLE FOR INDIA?
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Vanmathi M, III year of B.A.,LL.B.
In this context, we have to discuss the formidable issue which exists for the past 64 years. It brought out lots of discussions, deliberation in the parliament. Which created the strong agitation among the citizens? Here we discuss what is Uniform Civil Code? Why it is formidable to implement in India? These are discussed in this article. All we know, India is known for its culture. Indians always give respect and follows their custom and tradition. No Indian should be composed of their religious beliefs. If someone mocks their religious beliefs, it leads to violent communal riots and it may also lead to death for their religion. Indians give more priority to their religious beliefs. Moreover, the Indian Constitution provides its citizens to freedom of religion and worship of his or her own choice. Indians neither influenced nor compelled by anyone. India is a multilingual, multi-religious, multi food culture, multi traditional country. But India stands at "unity in diversity". This is the identity of our nation. India is a multi-religious country so that each religion have specified codified laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians and other religious people follow their customary laws. During the British period, Britons want to codify a common law in all matters regardless of different religions. But we did not agree with it, because we are more conscious of our religious beliefs. But, British parliament enacts a uniform criminal law and it applies to all the people in India. They make a promise that not to interfere in religious matters. After independence, the Uniform Civil Code is necessary to bring the uniformity of the nation. But it did not happen because that's not the right time to introduce it. So that ruling government always keeps its silence towards the uniform civil code. After the Shahbano's case, the Supreme Court suggests the parliament to implement the uniform civil code. But it is still the most difficult task for the parliament to implement the uniform civil code.
Uniform civil code
Uniform civil code makes a clear sound that 'one country one rule' to be applied to all religious communities. The Uniform Civil Code is mentioned in Article 44 of the Indian constitution corresponds with the directive principles of state policy stating that the state shall endeavour to provides uniform civil code for its citizens throughout the territory.UCC means that all sections of people are treated equally irrespective of their religion under common civil code which shall apply to all uniformly.UCC covers subject such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption etc. The objective of UCC is to promote national integration, gender justice, equality and dignity of women.
Supreme Court cases which initiate the UCC
1) Shah Bano's case[i]
Shah Bano was 73 years old and she was divorced by using triple talaq and was denied maintenance. The district court and high court gave judgement in her favour, so husband appealed to the Supreme Court saying that he had fulfilled all his duties under Islamic law. The Supreme Court held that maintenance of wives, children, and parents provided under section 125 of the Criminal procedure Code which applied to all its citizens irrespective of the religion. This historical judgement creates a lot of agitation because, under Muslim personal law, the maintenance was only paid until the iddah period. This led to nationwide discussion and meetings. The government passed the women's (Right to protection on divorce) was introduced under pressure. This made the provision section 125 of the criminal procedure code does not apply to Muslim women.
2) Daniel latifi case[ii]
Muslim women's act was challenged on the grounds such as it violates Article 14, 15 and Article21 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court states that the law was constitutional and harmonized it with section 125 of criminal procedure code held that the amount received by the wife during iddah period should be large enough to maintain her during iddah as well as provide for her future. The divorced Muslim women are entitled to maintenance for her lifetime or until she is remarried.
3) Sarla Mudgal case[iii]
A Hindu married man, by embracing Islam can solemnize a second marriage. The court held that Hindu marriage is solemnized under Hindu law and dissolved only on the grounds specified under Hindu Marriage Act 1955. This states that conversion to Islam and marrying again would not itself dissolve the existence of Hindu marriage under the act and second marriage would be an offence of bigamy even after conversion to Muslim.
4) John vallamattom case[iv]
Vallamattom, a priest challenged the constitutional validity of section 118 of the Indian succession act. This provision was discriminatory against Christians as it imposes an unreasonable restriction on the donation of their property for the religious and charitable purpose by will. The court struck down the section as unconstitutional.
5) S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India[v]
The Supreme Court held secularism is the basic feature of the Indian constitution. The word 'secularism' was inserted in the preamble by the 42nd amendment.
Indian constitution on the uniform civil code
Uniform civil code was explained under Article 44 of part 4 of the Indian Constitution. If the framers of the constitution had intended to implement UCC, then surely they have given exclusive jurisdiction to parliament in respect of personal laws, by including it in the union list. But personal laws are mentioned in the concurrent list. Article 37 of the constitution itself clearly says that DPSP shall not be enforceable by any court. This indicates our constitution believes itself that uniform civil code should be implemented in some manner; it does not need compulsory or mandatory implementation of UCC. There is a certain provision which provides freedom of religion and secularism are Article 15 says that there is no discrimination is based on caste, sex, religion, race, place of birth. Article 25 says that freedom of conscience, free profession, practice and propagation of religion. Article 25(2) regulates the secular activities which are associated with religious practice, reforms and social welfare. Article 26 Right to establish and administer religious institutions, Article 27 it prohibits the state from levying taxes for the benefit of a particular religion. Article 28 deals with the issue of religious instruction in educational institutions.
Goa- successive uniform civil code (Goa civil code)
Goa is the only Indian state to have a common family law. Until this common civil code, they followed the Portuguese civil code. The features of this code are it allows equal division of income and property between husband and wife and between children. Every birth, death, marriage have to be compulsorily registered. Muslim whose marriage has registered in Goa cannot give divorce through triple talaq and no way to practice polygamy. Each spouse in case of divorce entitled to get half of the property and in case of death, the ownership of property is halved for surviving members. This act had drawbacks also.
Pros and cons of uniform civil code
Pros of uniform civil code
(1) It will integrate India
(2) It helps in reducing vote bank politics
(3) Personal laws are used as loopholes at somewhere
(4) Sign of a progressive and modern nation
(5) It will give more rights to women
(6) All Indians should be treated as same
(7) It promotes real secularism
(8) Article 25 and 26 guarantees the freedom of religion and UCC is not opposed to secularism
Cons of Uniform Civil Code
(1) Lack of political will
(2) Different religious communities
(3) Misinformation of UCC
(4) Sensitive and tough task
(5) Time is not yet suitable for this reform
(6) Interference of state in personal matters
(7) Practical difficulties due to diversity in India
The uniform civil code has social, political and religious aspects. The uniform civil code encourages national integrity without small discrimination. Now we have a common criminal law, it binds all its citizens. When we implement the uniform civil code, that is considered as the greatest success. Because India is the largest democratic country with diversified religion and languages.UCC not to be misunderstood that there is no religious freedom. In case UCC is implemented, there is no change in our freedom and Rights. It's too late to implement UCC in India. I support if UCC is implemented there is a development in a country, empowerment of women, gender equality. But I prefer implementation of uniform code is based on public opinion, not by compulsion, because it is a democratic country, not tyranny's rule.
[i] 1985 (3) SCR 844 [ii] (2001) 7 SCC [iii] 1995 AIR 1531 [iv] (2003) 6 SCC 611 [v] AIR 1994 SC 1918