India is a big country with diverse culture and traditions. Communities
follow their particular customs and traditions. Particularly in the case of
marriage, divorce, inheritance of property different laws are followed. So, it
is difficult in the part of government to make one rule for all.
All the personal laws of various communities are governed by their religious
scriptures. Personal laws are those laws which covers marriage, divorce,
inheritance, adoption, and maintenance. For the first time British rulers
brought the personal laws for Hindus and Muslims.
After independence in the constituent assembly if India the topic of uniform
civil code has been discussed. In a newly independent country like India which
came into being after large scale communal violence Uniform Civil Code is a very
sensitive issue. So, it was mentioned in the Directive Principle of State Policy
(DPSP). Directive principles are ideal principles which to be followed by the
government and citizens.
But they are neither mandatory nor enforceable by law. It helps in maintaining
public welfare and social harmony. To make the directive principle enforceable
in the court of law government must legislate on Directive Principles of State
Policies articles separately. Sometimes Directive principles can also clash with
the fundamental rights. Everybody wished a law could be made and implemented.
Meenu Mashani was the first member of the constituent assembly who raised the
issue of uniform civil code. Proposal of this code got support from the women
members in the constituent assembly. Hansa Mehta argued for the code as a member
of fundamental rights of the committee. Under the leadership of Jawahar Lal
Nehru congress party was in favour of uniform civil code.
Law minister Dr. B.R. Ambedkar found that the orthodox Hindu laws were
supportive of women rights. Monogamy, divorce, and widows right to inherit
property were present in the Hindu sastra. Nehru administration tried to pass
Hindu code bill it wanted to introduce modern reforms.
But the bill was severely criticized. Thus, a lesser version of this bill was
passed by parliament in 1956 in the form of separate acts they are Hindu
Marriage Act, Hindu succession Act, Minority and guardianship act, Adoption and
maintenance Act. However, this was opposed by women members it was said that
Indian governments failure to form a Uniform Civil Code due to the pressure of
the traditional Patriarchal society.
Cases relating to Uniform Civil Code
In course of time the conflict between secular and religious authorities over
the issue of Uniform Civil Code eventually decreased. But in 1958 Mohammad Ahmed
Khan v. Shah Bano Begum popularly known as Shah Bano case again ignited the
fire. Saha Bano was divorced by her husband Muhammad Ahmen Khan after fourth
years of marriage Saha Bano moved to supreme court Supreme court seeking
maintenance under section 125 of CrPC. The Supreme court game the verdict in
favour of Saha Bano by applying section 125 using criminal code. This code is
applied to all the citizen irrespective of religion.
Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud observed that the common civil code would help
the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law. So,
the supreme court directed the parliament to form uniform civil code. But Rajiv
Gandhi government was not satisfied with the supreme court's verdict. Instead of
supporting it the government enacted the Muslim women (protection of rights on
divorce) act, 1986 to nullify the supreme court judgement and let the Muslim
personal was to prevail in the matter of divorce.
In Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India
this is the second time that the
Supreme Court has again instructed the administration in accordance with Article
44. In this case, the issue at hand was whether a Hindu spouse who had
previously been wed under Hindu law may now legally consummate a second marriage
by converting to Islam.
According to the Supreme Court, it is against the law to convert to Islam in
order to enter a second marriage. Furthermore, it was said that a Hindu marriage
might be dissolved under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955; hence, changing to
Islam and then remarrying would not be sufficient to dissolve the marriage under
Hindu Marriage Law and would constitute a crime under Section 494 of the Indian
Dealing with indigenous people
Importance must be given to indigenous people of India. The constitute nine
percent of the population. They are distributed into three religious categories
those are Christians, Hinduised tribes and followers of the tribal religions.
Tribal communities have their own customary laws which are yet to be codified.
Their civil laws and criminal laws are interwoven with their life. So, ample
space must be given to indigenous people in Uniform Civil Code.
Dealing with Muslim Communities
We generally feel that Indian Muslim community is against uniform civil code.
But it is clear that they are not dogmatically attached to Islamic laws. They
are aware that in Pakistan General Ayub Khan introduced path breaking personal
laws reforms through the Muslim family law ordinance. These modern set of laws
replaced Sharia based practices. So, a conducive political climate should be
provided to Indian Muslims where they could feel secure about their cultural and
Uniform Civil Code in Goa
Goa is the only state in India which as a uniform civil code. Goa has a common
family law. Hindus, Muslims, Christians all are bound to same law related to
marriage, divorce, and succession. In 1961 Goa became a union territory of India
by virtue of Goa, Daman, Diu administration act 1962 the Parliament authorized
the Portuguese civil code of 1867 to Goa and shall be amended and repealed by
the competent legislature.
Positive and Negative aspects:Positive aspects of the uniform civil code are:
Negative Aspects Of Uniform Civil Code:
- Giving all citizens equal rights regardless of their gender, class,
caste, or religion.
- To advance female equality. UCC will equalise the treatment of men and
- To take into account the aspirations of the young people and to make the
most of their potential for nation-building.
- Before the law, all people of India are on an equal footing. So, all
people are subject to the same criminal laws and other civil laws, with the
exception of personal laws. UCC is therefore required to advance national
- To avoid the problem of updating current personal laws.
- It is difficult to establish a common and uniform set of rules
throughout India because of its variety, but our government is working to do
- Many groups, especially minority groups, believe that the Uniform Civil
Code infringes on their right to religious liberty.
- State intervention in private affairs. As the right to practise any
religion is guaranteed by the constitution. However, the breadth of
religious freedom may be constrained by the formulation of uniform laws and
It's a delicate and difficult task, but not impossible, to bring UCC
Now it is the right time to go for Uniform civil code which would protect the
fundamental and constitutional rights of the citizens irrespective of their
religion. Uniform civil code would strengthen secularism and national
Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi said "I do not expect India of my dreams to
develop one religion, to be wholly Christian or wholly Mussalman, but I want it
to be wholly tolerant with its religions working side by side with one another"