India is a diverse country with multiple religions and ethnicities living within
border. Presence of this variety of religions is reflected in our legal
system too. As India have religion based personal laws. In India different
religions have their own different personal laws, Here personal laws subjects
like marriage, divorce, maintenance after divorce, transfer of property,
And this has been matter of debate for generations that substitution of all
these personal laws with Uniform Civil Code
What is uniform civil code?
Uniform civil code is a set of integrated personal laws which will be use to
regulate the personals matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, succession,
transfer of property, adoption etc. to all citizens of India irrespective of
their religion and all the individuals of the country shall be regulated equally
under a single National Civil Code
According to our constitution Hindus and Muslims have their different personal
For Hindus: The Hindu personal laws which were codified in 1956 by Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Some main features of the bill is that it:
- legalized divorce
- opposed polygamy
- gave rights of inheritance to daughters.
Further this code bill is split into 4 parts:
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
- The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
- The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
For Muslims:Muslims of India were still regulated by primarily unmodified and traditional
approach guided by The Shariat Law of 1937.
In this it is clearly state that state shall not disturb the personal matters of
Muslims and only religious authorities can pass a declaration which will be
based on Muslim holy books Quran and Hadith.
For Christians:Indian Christians Marriage Act 1872
Existence Of Uniform Civil Code In Constitution Of India
Uniform Civil Code is present in Part IV, Article 44 of Indian Constitution.
Article 44 states that:
The State shall endeavour to secure the citizen a
Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.
Part IV of Indian constitution deals with the Directive Principles of State
policy. However Article 37 of Constitution itself makes it clear that DPSP shall not be enforced by any court but the principles therein laid down are
nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the
duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.
Indian Judiciary On UCC
Since there are number of cases where Supreme Court and other Courts
referred Article 44 and the concept of UCC mainly to highlight the lacklustre of
attitude of the Executive and Legislature in the implementation of directive.
Debate for requirement of UCC majorly begin from the SHAH BANO CASE 1985.
Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum
In this case:- A 73-year-old woman called Shah Bano was divorced by her husband
using triple talaq (saying I divorce thee three times) and was denied
maintenance. She approached the courts and the District Court and the High Court
ruled in her favour. This led to her husband appealing to the Supreme Court
saying that he had fulfilled all his obligations under Islamic law. The Supreme
Court ruled in her favour in 1985 under the maintenance of wives, children and
parents provision (Section 125) of the All India Criminal Code, which applied
to all citizens irrespective of religion.
Further, Supreme Court recommended that a uniform civil code be set up.
Impact - After this historic decision, nationwide discussions, meetings and
agitations were held. The then government under pressure passed The Muslim
Women's (Right to protection on divorce) Act (MWA) in 1986, which made Section
125 of the Criminal Procedure Code inapplicable to Muslim women.
Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India
In this case, the question was whether a Hindu husband married under the Hindu
law, by embracing Islam, can solemnise a second marriage. The court held that
the Hindu marriage solemnized under Hindu law can only be dissolved on any of
the grounds specified under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Conversion to Islam and
marrying again, would not by itself dissolve the Hindu marriage under the act
and thus, a second marriage solemnized after converting to Islam would be an
offence under section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Do India Need Unifor Civil Code
This is being a matter of debate over generations. Those who were in favour
argue that this will defeat the discrimination on the basis of religion and
those who were against it argue that this will destroy the nation of its
religious diversities and it violates the fundamental right of right to practice
religion enshrined in Article 25 of Indian Constitution, in fact they contend
that it is against democracy.
India need UCC, as different personal laws promotes communalism and this leads
to discrimination at two levels
- Between people of different religions
- Between sexes
As personal laws are misogynist in nature as almost personal laws are based on
very old scriptures and personal laws allow these old rules to regulate family
life. Due to this old religious laws individuals of society
especially women were suffering from a long time. Experts believe that
implementation of UCC will help the condition of women in society.
Uniform Civil Code in India have to face some challenges before and after
implementation of it but it has various positive outcomes like- it will unite
the citizens of whole country irrespective of their religion, sex or tribe under
a common a national civil code. Personal Laws are a Loophole- By allowing
personal laws we have constituted an alternate judicial system that still
operates on thousands of years old values. A uniform civil code would change
UCC will promote real Secularism – what we have today in our country is partial
secularism that means some areas are secular and in others we aren't.
Implementation of UCC will be promote the atmosphere of real secularism, that
means all citizens have to follow same set of laws whether they are Hindu,
Muslim, Sikh, Christian or of any religion.
Effect of UCC on Judiciary system
UCC will help in simplification of laws as in Indian Judiciary system there are
too many laws exist like Hindu code Bill, Shariat Law, etc. Presence of so many
laws creates confusion, complexity and inconsistencies in the adjudication of
personal matters, at times leading to delayed justice or no justice. And UCC
will results to reduce the overlapping of laws.
Since from a long time due to these overlapping and confusion between laws
results long run of cases. As result there are over three crore cases
pending across the Supreme Court, the High Courts, and the
subordinate courts (including district courts).
In todays modern world where we are talking about equality and the rights of
women are usually limited under the patriarchal discourse through religious
laws. UCC will liberate women from patriarchal domination and provide them with
right to equality and liberty. In the long term, UCC would lead to the defeat of
the communal and the divisionist forces.
Social – political Challenges
In the name of uniformity, the minorities fears that the culture of the majority
is being imposed over them.
Given vast cultural diversity in India, bringing uniformity among all such
people will be a huge challenge.
Patriarchal mindset of Indian society poses a big challenge in implementation of
UCC. This can be reflected by the fact that, the Hindu code bill has been
already in place from mid-1950s, yet the quantum of land actually inherited by
Hindu women is only a fraction of the land they are entitled.
But here the question arises that whether regulation of relation between husband
& wife, child & parent is interference in religion?
Implementation of UCC does not effect the spiritual ceremonies and belief of any
religion but it effect the human rights of individual. Meanwhile UCC means the
modernization and humanization of personal laws and It will de-link law form
Goa Civil Code
Goa is the only Indian state where a Uniform Civil Code is applied for common
family laws. India got independence on 1947 but Goa was liberated from
Portuguese rule in 1961. During Portuguese rule family matters were regulated
under Portuguese Civil Code and wasn't replaced after its liberation.
Some of the features of GCC:
- It allows equal distribution of property and income between husband and
wife and between children irrespective of gender.
- Every birth, marriage, death should compulsorily registered. For
Divorce, there are several provisions.
- Muslims who were registered their marriages in Goa cannot practice
- In the case of divorce each spouse is entitled to half of property and
in case of death property will distribute equally in each member of family.
However, the GCC has some certain drawbacks as well and it is not a proper
uniform code. For example, if wife of a Hindu men fails to deliver a child by
the age of 25, or she fails to give birth a male child by the age of 30 then the
men have right to practice bigamy and this is mentioned in Codes of usages and
Customs of Gentile Hindus of Goa, otherwise no one have right to perform bigamy
Since from a long period of time various courts referred UCC to be implemented
in India, but no government had shown courage to touch these personal laws.
Five PIL's were filed seeking a Uniform Civil Code by - BJP leader Ashwini Ku.
Upadhyay, lawyer Abhinav Bedi, Firoz Bhakt Ahmed ( the chancellor of Maulana
Azad National Urdu University) and grand nephew of 1st education minister
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Amber Zaidi and recently by Nighat Abbass in Delhi High
The petitions came up for hearing before a bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice
C Hari Shankar.
The 5 petitions are sought direction to constitute a judicial commission or a
high level expert committee to draft UCC within 3 months, while considering the
best practices of all religion including uniform minimum age of marriage, ground
of divorce, maintenance alimony, adoption, guardianship, succession and
inheritance and seeks civil laws of developed countries and international
In the end I would conclude that the vision and perspective of implementation of
UCC in India is to regulate or govern the citizens of India equally despite of
their religion, so that each individual living in the territory of India will
feel equal and secular. Although it would remove gender discrimination on the
grounds of religion from our system and it will make Judiciary more efficient
and fast as well.
At last, I strongly support the implementation of UCC and standardization of the
personal laws. I support it because it is need of the moment in India and it is
the time that India must integrate its personal laws and come up with a standard
set of personal laws which is beneficial for every citizen of India and promotes
equality in every sections of the country and make country more integrated and
- The Muslim personal laws (SHARIAT) Application Act, 1937, No. 26 of 1937
- Constitution of India 1950, part iv Article 44
- Constitution of India 1950, Article 37
- Mohd Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum, (1985) AIR 945
- Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India, (1995) AIR 1531