Uniform Civil Code

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 18/07/2023 Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code

  • The concept of a standard set of civil laws for all citizens of a country, regardless of religious or cultural ties, is referred to as the standard Civil Code.
  • A UCC would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities, in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.
  • In other words, UCC is a set of rules/regulations, which 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.

Current situation in India

  • Currently, Indian personal law is fairly complex, with each religion adhering to its own specific laws.
  • Separate laws/ customs govern Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhist, Muslims, Christians, and followers of other religions.
  • Moreover, there is diversity even within communities. All Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians.
  • For example, in the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws.
  • The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • The exception to this rule is the state of Goa, where all religions have a common law regarding marriages, divorces, and adoption.

Constitutional position

Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a UCC for citizens throughout the territory of India.

  • Article 44 is among the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • Directive Principles are not enforceable by court, but are supposed to inform and guide governance.

Please read- Shah Bano judgement

Stand of the 21st Law Commission on the matter

  • In 2018, 21st Law Commission underlined that the Uniform Civil Code is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.
  • It argued for reform of family laws of every religion through amendments and codification of certain aspects so as to make them gender-just.
  • It further said that cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.

Need for UCC

  • To promote national unity
  • Different personal laws are put to subversive use
  • Gender justice and Equality
  • Not in the domain of religious activities
  • Simplification and Rationalization of legal system
  • Vision of constitution makers

Arguments against UCC

  • Diversity cannot be compromised for uniformity
  • Violation of fundamental rights
  • Constitution recognises the customary laws and procedures prevailing in NE states
  • Detrimental to communal harmony of India

SC-related cases:

Landmark Cases Ruling and Implications
Shah Bano Case (1985) The Supreme Court upheld the right of a Muslim woman to claim maintenance from her husband even after the Iddat period.
It highlighted the need for a UCC to remove contradictions based on ideologies.
Sarla Mudgal (1995) The Supreme Court stated that a Hindu husband cannot convert to Islam and marry without dissolving his first marriage.
It emphasized that a UCC would prevent fraudulent conversions and bigamous marriages.
Shayara Bano case (2017) The Supreme Court declared triple talaq as unconstitutional and violative of Muslim women’s dignity and equality.
It recommended that Parliament enact a law to regulate Muslim marriages and divorces.