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Is India Ready For UCC?

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) advocates for the creation of a single law for India that would apply to all religious communities in areas such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption and that apply equally to all citizens regardless of religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Currently, religious scriptures govern personal laws in various communities. Implementation of a unified civil code throughout the country .Article 44 of the Constitution states that the state shall endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for citizens throughout the territory of India.

For more than a century, the issue has been at the centre of political narrative and debate, and it is a top priority for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been pushing for legislation in Parliament. The saffron party was the first to promise UCC implementation if elected, and the issue was included in its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto.

There are two types of law in India:
First, there are laws that apply to everyone equally, without any distinction of any kind, such as the Indian Penal Code and the Evidence Act.

Second, those laws that do not apply uniformly to all but only to a specific community. These are known as personal laws, such as Muslim Personal Law and Hindu Personal Law.

Personal laws deal with issues such as marriage, divorce, adoption, and maintenance within a community. If a person does not want to be governed by personal law specific to a particular community, he can always opt for special acts such as the Special Marriage Act.

The UCC's origins can be traced back to colonial India, when the British government issued a report in 1835 emphasising the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be excluded from such codification.

In 1941, the government formed the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law due to an increase in legislation dealing with personal issues at the end of British rule. The Hindu Law Committee was tasked with investigating the necessity of common Hindu laws. In accordance with scripture, the committee recommended codified Hindu law that would grant women equal rights.

The 1937 Act was examined, and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus. Based on these recommendations, a bill known as the Hindu Succession Act was passed in 1956 to amend and codify the law governing intestate or unwilled succession among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.

There were, however, separate personal laws for Muslims, Christians, and Parsis. In order to achieve uniformity, the courts have frequently stated in their decisions that the government should implement a uniform civil code.

Significance Of Article 44?

The goal of Article 44 of the Indian Constitution's Directive Principles was to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and to harmonize diverse cultural groups across the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar stated during the formulation of the Constitution that a UCC is desirable but should remain voluntary for the time being, and thus Article 35 of the draught Constitution was added as part of the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. It was incorporated into the Constitution as a provision that would be fulfilled when the nation was ready to accept it and the UCC could gain social acceptance.

Why UCC Inserted In Directive Principle Of State Policy And Not In Fundamental Rights?

As evidenced by the constitution Assembly debates, all communities, particularly minorities, were uneasy about giving up personal law in favour of secular laws when the constitution was drafted. They believed that it was the decision of the majority, and that they would implement all laws that benefited their community.

So the idea behind rejecting the UCC was that people from oppressed and marginalized sections of society cannot be oppressed and can follow their own rules and regulations without interference from superior authority. So the responsibility was transferred to the future generation to implement the UCC when the time is right.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar stated that UCC should not be implemented until the nation is ready, and that if the government continues to implement it, it will be the death of a democracy.

Effects That Uniform Civil Code Will Have

The UCC aims to protect vulnerable groups, such as women and religious minorities, as envisioned by Ambedkar, while also promoting nationalistic fervor through unity. When enacted, the code will work to simplify laws that are currently divided based on religious beliefs, such as the Hindu code bill , Shariat law, and others. The code will make the complex laws surrounding marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions one for all. The same civil law will then apply to all citizens, regardless of faith.

In fact, several significant reforms contributed to the promotion of UCC: the Hindu code bill to reform Hindu laws; the September 9 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act 1956 to provide daughters with inheritance rights; the Hindu Marriage Act, Minority and Guardianship Act, Adoptions and Maintenance Act; and the Special Marriage Act for civil marriages outside of any religious personal law.

The Main Things Which Ucc Has To Tackle

  • To address the gender disparities caused by various religious laws
  • To address personal laws that are a flaw in the legal system
  • To ensure that all citizens are treated equally
  • Dealing with vote-bank politics
  • To encourage secularism

Is UCC Against Its Own Constitution?

It is given under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution 1949 gives every person the right to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality, and health. Article 26 all denominations the right to manage their own affairs in matters of religion. Every religious denominations or organization is free to manage its own affairs and is confined to matters of religious nature. The state cannot interfere in the exercise of this unless they run counter to public order, health or morality.

Under Article 29 of the Indian Constitution 1949 , the main goal of the article is to protect the culture of India's minority groups. India is a diverse country, which is both its strength and its weakness. As a result of India's complexity, Article 29 of the Constitution is invoked. The Indian Constitution guarantees these rights to India's minority groups. This contributes to the preservation of all India's marginalised groups. People are also motivated to safeguard, spread, and preserve their culture.

If it is the duty of the minority to manage and maintain its own affairs, will the implementation of the UCC not be against our own Constitution?

As we can see in the Mohd Ahmad Khan V. Shah Bano case in which the Supreme Court ruled against Muslim Personal Law and permitted the husband to provide the wife with the maintenance. These facts imply that when the Uniform Civil Code is put into effect, it will take precedence over personal laws and violate our own constitution.

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