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Roadblocks Or Pathways? Assessing Women's Rights Under The Uniform Civil Code

India, that is Bharat, had just completed the G-20 summit, which aimed to address key challenges relating to the global economy, such as international financial stability, mitigating climate change, and sustainable development. This helped us recognize how far we had come. and how much work we would have to do for the global community as well as for our nation.

After seeing the most popular event in our nation, we will once more discuss the most renowned and, this time, the most vigorously debated issue, namely the UCC uniform civil code. The moment has come to discuss the UCC. It covers centuries for a debate over the UCC.

Despite being a woman, life does not always treat you fairly. In an effort to give one gender a noble root and the other an ignoble one, even India's literature, whether Hindu, Muslim, or elsewhere, is rife with patriarchy. In contemporary Indian society, we are aware that patriarchy has a secure foothold.

In the past, our society desired that males rule over all aspects of their lives, including their homes, finances, economies, and societies. However, women lacked the authority to make decisions regarding our homes, and they were not even allowed to pursue their own education. Men were made noble by us, but women weren't even after a prolonged period.

Prof. Thorndyke says that a man thinks is a biological fact, what he thinks is a sociological fact.

The Uniform Civil Code: What is It?

The Indian Constitution's Article 44, which discusses the directive principles of state policy, alludes to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).Uniform Civil Code The true meaning is that there is only one nation and one law. It implies that the goals of the uniform civil code would be to ensure that there is no discrimination against men and women and that every person is subject to the same laws.

The unified civil code is an assemblage of rules maintained by the Indian government that redefines Indian citizens' personal laws like Property inheritance, adoption, divorce, sex-based discrimination, marriage, caste, creed, religion, and community encompass all issues the government must reform. It is not officially enforced by law.

Article 44 of the Constitution states that "The State shall endeavour to secure the citizen a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India".

Uniform Civil Code And Indian Constitution

To uphold justice and promote gender equality, our constituents emphatically advocated for the inclusion of a uniform civil code in the Indian Constitution during the 19th century. The need for a unified code arose from the unjust ramifications of various personal laws. Notably, eminent figures such as Dr. B. R. Ambedkar strongly endorsed the integration of the uniform civil code into the constitution, ensuring its distinguished status. By incorporating this code, our constitution served to address the rightful concerns of our diverse society.

The Indian Constitution mentioned the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Article 35 when it was first drafted in 1948. However, there was opposition to it, as some believed that the drafters had no authority to control personal laws and that it violated the right to freedom of religion.

Over time, other members voiced their support for a UCC in India, citing reasons such as promoting women's equality and rights, preserving national unity, and ensuring equal treatment of women. Without altering the original draft, the Constituent Assembly incorporated the UCC to Article 44 of the Indian Constitution's directive principles of state policy following extensive debate.

A uniform civil code has twice been recommended in the Indian Parliament, the first time in 2016 (by the 21st Law Commission). The 21st Law Commission released a consultation paper on "Reforms of Family Law" on August 31, 2018. The 22nd Law Commission of India thought it was appropriate to revisit the topic since more than three years had passed since the date of the release of the aforementioned consultation paper, taking into account the subject's relevance and importance as well as the numerous court orders on the matter. Both times, the Uniform Civil Code was not even introduced in the legislature.

The Logistical Difficulties That Personal Laws Transmit For Indian Women:

Pertaining to a person's religion, personal laws in India include those that regulate issues such as adoption, inheritance, inheritance rights, and marriage. These rules, such as the personal laws of the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh groups, are generally based on religious practices and are unique to various religious communities. Personal laws, which are intended to protect the plurality of India's religious communities, have created considerable logistical challenges for Indian women, particularly in the following ways:

Wealth disparity and Inequality:

In areas of inheritance, marriage, and divorce, personal laws frequently discriminate against women. For instance, according to Muslim personal law, a daughter normally receives half of what a son receives in inheritance. The treatment of women's property rights and the idea of coparcenary property have long been controversial topics in Hindu personal law.

Matrimonial challenges:

Personal laws might differ greatly amongst different communities, which can make interfaith marriages confusing and difficult legally. For instance, the Muslim Personal Law and the Hindu Marriage Act have different provisions for divorce grounds, child custody, and support following divorce. Women had restricted rights in marriage and divorce prior to the Hindu Code Bill. Equal rights in these areas were the goal of the bill.

However, questions surrounding divorce and alimony keep coming up. Muslim women were helped when the practice of "triple talaq" among Muslims was ruled unlawful in the case of Shayara Bano v. Union of India (2017). Concerns have also been raised over the inheritance rights of Muslim women. It has been discussed in cases like Danial Latifi v. Union of India (2001) whether Muslim women have equal inheritance rights.

Lack of Uniformity:

Whilst it touches on matters like the registration of marriages, divorces, and maintenance claims, the absence of uniformity in personal laws causes logistical complications. In order to deal with various parts of personal life, it frequently becomes necessary to navigate many legal systems. Enforcing their right to maintenance and claiming their portion of family property can be difficult for women. Cases such as Danamma Suman Surpur v. Amar (2018) addressed concerns with women's property rights. After divorce, Muslim women frequently experience challenges obtaining support from their husbands. The case of Shabnam Hashmi v. Union of India (2014) presented questions concerning maintenance rights.

Access to Justice:

The judiciary's application of personal laws can occasionally be uneven, which can cause uncertainty and legal problems. countless Indian women, especially those from marginalized groups, encounter major obstacles while trying to access the justice system. It might be difficult to seek remedy under personal laws due to factors like financial limitations, a lack of legal knowledge, and social pressure to settle conflicts within the family or community. Some personal laws may enforce dress codes or other restrictions on women's personal freedom and autonomy.

Religious individuals conservatism:

Personal laws may not adequately address issues of domestic violence or spousal abuse, leaving women vulnerable in abusive situations. Some religious leaders and groups oppose any efforts to change personal laws, citing religious principles and customs. Attempts to reform personal laws to be more gender-equitable may be hampered by this opposition.

Is It A Boost Or A Roadblock For Indian Women?

Gender Equality:
UCC supporters believe that it will lead to more gender equality by eliminating discriminatory practices and giving women the same legal rights as males in marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

Protection from Discrimination:
It may safeguard women against some of the gender-biased provisions in certain personal laws that might penalize women, particularly in divorce and inheritance situations.

The UCC is viewed as a step towards a more secular and united legal system, which could aid in lowering communal tensions and assuring equitable treatment of all citizens regardless of religion.

Lack of Consensus:
In a varied and heterogeneous country like India, reaching consensus on a single civil code is a difficult undertaking. The lack of agreement and the possibility of dispute may cause it to be delayed.

Religion And Cultural Sensitivities:
Adopting a UCC would necessitate considerable modifications to religion personal laws, which many religious communities could oppose. Critics believe that this could spark a reaction and Jeopardize women's health.

Implementation Difficulties:
Effectively implementing and enforcing a UCC would necessitate major resources and infrastructure, both of which may be lacking in many parts of India. Some are concerned that a one-size-fits-all approach will weaken the safeguards provided by religious laws to women in specific situations.

The Uniform Civil Code is a complex and debated matter in India, with its effects on women's rights being determined by specific provisions and implementation. While proponents argue that it can foster gender equality and safeguard women's rights, critics fear resistance and obstacles that may undermine its effectiveness in addressing diverse communal and individual needs.

The ultimate impact on women's rights in India hinges on how the Uniform Civil Code is executed and accommodates the unique requirements of different communities and individuals.

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