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Shall India Follow A Uniform Civil Code?

India is Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic. Diversity is at the heart of Indian culture, but diversity in the law is unfair.

Article 14 of the Indian constitution states that when it comes to the law of the land, everyone is on the same footing, but there has always been a gap between making laws and enforcing them. The recent ruling on triple talaq is indicative of the issues that Muslim women have been dealing with since the beginning of time, and the failure to take the necessary steps to address these issues on time.

Why are different rules devised for different communities when everyone is subject to the rule of law? This is an interesting question to consider when everyone is subject to the rule of law. Although the diversity of 133.92 billion people is accepted, why can't a single rule is applied to all of these diversifications in order to bring everyone together in a true sense? The protection of the law and the establishment of fundamental rights are not only extended to Indian citizens, but are also extended to anyone who happens to be present on the country's territory. Any form of discrimination, no matter how subtle, undermines the protection of our laws and the equality of all people under the law.

Introduction
In a country such as India, where religion is being diversified by the citizen, the Uniform Civil Code is such a controversial subject which raises the question whether it really will be a benchmark of the Indian personal laws, or a nail to the coffin of different personal laws. The Uniform Civil Code is an entire set of laws which mainly govern all the Indian citizens' personal issues without discriminating or ensuring fundamental rights and constitutional rights of Indian citizens, irrespective of religion. It simply means that another set of laws will replace all the current laws of Indian Citizens' different religious culture.

In the Indian territory, the demand for uniform civil code dates back to the time when some women activists in the early 20th century had put forward it with the main motivation of women's equal rights and protection as well as equality and secularism. Until independence, a number of legislative reforms were adopted taking into account the idea of improving the condition and the wrongdoings for women, particularly against the Hindu widows.

Although former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his supporter and the female activists had requested a Uniform Civil Code for 1956, the disadvantage remains that the Muslim opposition member had to accept the Hindu Codes Bill and also the uniform civil code in the Indian Directive Principles of State Policy.

During the colonial period of Indian rule, Indian rule was held by the British East India Company when Lord William (the then Governor General of India) wanted to save women from the cruel Sati system and passed the Regulatory Statute against it, when the UCC was formed. To grasp the concept of the Uniform Civil Code, it is helpful to refer to Article 44 of the Indian Constitution (UCC).

An appropriate law can be drafted by taking into consideration the changing social environment and tailoring it to meet the needs of a newly forming society. What should be implemented in the country is a source of debate and contention. Should it be implemented in the country or not? As well as whether or not it can be made uniformly applicable to a diverse population of people. What are the obstacles that are preventing it from being implemented effectively will be dealt in detail in this article.

During the constitutional debates, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar expressed his desire to introduce a Uniform Civil Code in India, drawing inspiration from the western world, where such a Uniform Civil Code was already in place, with the goal of bringing uniformity and unity to society.

In spite of this, due to the vast diversity of India's culture and religion, the idea of a Uniform Civil Code was strongly opposed by the other members of the Constituent Assembly, who debated whether the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code would infringe on the rights of freedom of religion and the right to manage religious affairs, which are guaranteed under articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution, respectively.

Consequently, the Uniform Civil Code was left to be implemented by the government in the future and was included in Part IV of the Constitution as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, which is found under the heading Directive Principles of State Policy.

Historical Background
The origins of the Uniform Civil Code in India can be traced back to the British governance of India during the nineteenth century. They gradually consolidated power over the entire country of India. It was previously the case that different monarchs ruled distinct areas of the Indian Territory. Despite gaining authority over a vast portion of India, the Mughals were never able to establish unified rules that could be applied throughout the country.

When the British ruled over India, one of the most difficult challenges they faced was governing a country with a diverse population with a distinct set of religious beliefs. The other issue they had to deal with was that the law and moral views were jumbled together, and the law was not separated from the moral ideas. The codification of laws was undertaken in order to address this issue.

Does India Have A Civil Code?

In most civil matters, Indian law follows a uniform code, which includes the Indian Contract Act, the Civil Procedure Code, the Sale of Goods Act, the Transfer of Property Act, the Partnership Act, and the Evidence Act, among other things. States, on the other hand, have enacted hundreds of amendments, resulting in a great deal of variation even within these secular civil laws in certain areas.

If the framers of the Constitution had intended for there to be a Uniform Civil Code, they would have included this subject in the Union List, which they did not do, and thus given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament over personal laws, which is what they did not do. The term personal laws, on the other hand, is included in the Concurrent List. According to the Law Commission, a Uniform Civil Code is neither feasible nor desirable, as it concluded in its report published last year.

The Poll Results

There was disagreement in the Constituent Assembly over whether or not the Uniform Civil Code should be included in the chapter on fundamental rights. The issue was finally resolved through a vote. It was decided by a 5:4 majority that the provision fell outside the scope of fundamental rights and that the Uniform Civil Code should be considered less important than religious freedom by the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was appointed by the President.

Article 25 vs. Article 44
Article 25 of the Indian Constitution is the primary issue in implementing the Uniform Civil Code. The country's minorities are opposed to the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code by defending Article 25.

Article 25 guarantees for freedom of religion, which in the Constitution is a fundamental right. According to this Article, a person is free to practise and spread his religious choices. In many communities, religious practices that were previously incorporated into their personal laws are still practiced today. These communities argue that Article 25's right to religious freedom empowers them to handle personal laws according to the laws of their community.

It is challenged to introduce the Uniform Civil Code as a breach of basic rights according to Article 25. Article 44 is a State Directive Principle only that cannot be enforced in courts but Article 25 is an enforceable fundamental right in courts.

However, secular activities are specifically excluded from the scope of Article 25. The State and not religion must deal with secular activities. This exclusion is believed by the Uniform Civil Code advocates to cover personal laws. It is important to stress out that matters such as divorce, adoption, and inheritance are legal and not religious matters. In order to improve the application of constitutional requirements, these questions can be split by faith. It is best to separate law and religion. This is a long debate. This is a long discussion. However, it cannot be argued that a Uniform Civil Code is necessary.

The Secularism Index Of India

The secularism and religious freedom guaranteed by the Indian Constitution have served as the central tenets of the debate surrounding the UCC controversy. As stated in the preamble of the Indian Constitution, India is a secular democratic republic with religious freedom. This means that there is no official religion in the country.

A secular state has no right to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their religious beliefs. A state is only concerned with the relationship that exists between people. It is not concerned with the nature of man's relationship with God. It does not imply that all religions should be permitted to be practiced. It implies that religion should not be allowed to interfere with a person's everyday activities.

India adheres to a positive secularism philosophy that differs from the doctrine of secularism accepted by the United States and some European countries, which holds that there should be a wall of separation between religion and the state. In India, positive secularism distinguishes between spiritualism and individual religious belief.

In reality, not all Hindus in the country are subject to the same set of laws. Hindu marriages between close relatives are prohibited by the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, but they are considered auspicious in the southern states of India. The Hindu Code Bill takes into account the traditions of various Hindu communities. In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that the Hindu Succession Act, 1955, could be used to make the daughter a coparcener. The wife is still not the coparcener, as previously stated. The property of a deceased person passes first to class-I heirs, and if there are none, then to class-II heirs. This is true even today. While the heirs of sons are promoted to class-I, the heirs of daughters are not promoted to the same level.

In addition, there is no uniform application of personal laws among Muslims and Christians. The local customs of Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram are protected under the Constitution. Many states' land laws are discriminatory as well, with daughters not inheriting landed properties when their fathers die in the presence of their sons. According to a 2006 amendment in the state of Uttar Pradesh, only an unmarried daughter is entitled to a share in agricultural property. The distinction between daughters who are married and those who are not married is arbitrary. They have been exempted from judicial review by being included in the Ninth Schedule of the United States Code.

UCC! Why not?
Due to India's diversity, it's difficult to devise a standard and uniform set of rules, but our government is attempting to formulate consistent principles. Numerous people groups, the majority of which are minority networks, view the Uniform Civil Code as an infringement on their rights to equal opportunity. Concerning issues close to home, obstructing the state, as the constitution prioritises one's preferred privilege over religious liberty. However, the codification of uniform guidelines and its impetus may limit the scope of religious opportunity. Bringing UCC is a difficult and extreme assignment, but one that is not feasible.

Why is it impractical in India?
  • Practical difficulties:
    India is a country of great religious, ethnic, and caste diversity. As a result of this cultural diversity, it is practically impossible to develop uniform rules for personal issues such as marriage. Additionally, convincing each community to abandon centuries-old traditions in favour of a new law is difficult.
     
  • Religious freedom violation:
    Religious minorities view the UCC as an infringement on their right to religious freedom. They fear that their traditional religious practices will be supplanted by the majority religious communities' rules and diktats.
     
  • The state should abstain from interfering in personal matters:
    The constitution guarantees the right to practise any religion. UCC would constitute a violation of that right.
     
  • Sensitive and difficult task:
    In order to create the UCC in its true spirit, it must borrow from various personal laws, gradually amend them, issue judicial pronouncements, ensure gender equality, and adopt expansive interpretations of marriage, maintenance, adoption, and succession. These are formidable tasks in terms of human resources. Additionally, the government should be sensitive and objective throughout its interactions with the majority and minority communities. Otherwise, communal violence may result.
     
  • The time is not yet right:
    there are already controversies surrounding the beef ban, the saffronization of school and college curricula, and love jihad, to name a few. At the moment, the introduction of UCC would exacerbate the problem by increasing Muslims' insecurity and vulnerability to fundamentalist and extremist ideologies.

The Contemporary Example: Goa

Following Independence, the State of Goa adopted the Portuguese Civil Code, which applied a UCC to each of its residents. The married couple holds joint ownership under this code in all advantages claimed and obtained by each partner. Indeed, even parents can't completely exclude their children from the property at all times. Muslims who have married in Goa are not allowed to practise polygamy.

Every person in Goa is bound by the same laws concerning marriage, succession and divorce. The communities are not subject to their own laws. The Goa Civil Code does not have the same ability to apply to all citizens of India, nor does it have the same application to all citizens of Goa. Article 44 is intended to have a greater impact by adopting an uniform civil code for all citizens of India without regard to religious or ethnic affiliation.

The question of the uniform application of the Goa Civil Code can be answered with the following facts:
  1. According to Gentile Hindus of Goa, Daman and Diu Codes of Customs and Use, Hindu men are entitled to polygamy under particular conditions
  2. According to Gentile Hindus Codes of Uses and Customs, divorce in Hindus is allowed only on the condition of the woman's adultery.
  3. Bigamy is also permitted on the grounds of the first woman's failure to deliver any kid until she is 25 and the first wife's failure to deliver a man's child until she is 30.
  4. Muslim males cannot perform polygamy if they are married in accordance with the Code.
  5. Unfair adoption and rights of unlawful children
  6. After receiving approval from the office of civil registrar, Catholic Christians can solemnise their marriage in the Church. However, Non-Catholics can register their marriage only in the civil registrar's office.
  7. The preceding facts about the Code clarify that there are many such deviations to it that it does not actually constitute a uniform code. Exceptions to the practise of monogamy are only permitted for Hindus and other communities. In comparison to legitimate offspring, the rights of illegitimate children are likewise unequal. It is also important to note that Catholic and non-Catholic marriages are treated differently.
This shows that it is not applied to all its residents uniformly. In this Code, there are various loopholes.

Minority insecurities

The primary impediment to the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code is the existence of insecurities among India's minority population. The majority, that is, Hindus, already have personal laws that are codified and distinct from religion. The minority is fearful of being subjected to majoritarian personal laws. UCC believes in imposing majority rule on minorities. Minorities' insecurity is evident in numerous instances. Discussing the possibility of criminalising triple talaq sparked outrage among the Muslim community.

The Uniform Civil Code's intent and purpose are diametrically opposed to this minority view. It is not imposing majority rule on the minority, but rather imposing a uniform and secular code of civil law on all citizens of India, regardless of religion.

Solutions
  • A collaborative approach will be required by the government and society in order to build trust, but more importantly, they will need to find common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives.
     
  • Instead of taking an all-at-once approach, the government could introduce separate aspects such as marriage, adoption, succession, and maintenance into a uniform civil code in stages, rather than in one big sweeping sweep.
     
  • Taking a Gender-Sensitive Approach: In addition to completing the long-overdue transition to a uniform civil code, the government would be wise to conduct a comprehensive review of several other laws that are relevant to gender justice.
     
  • Implementing a Pan-India Approach: The process of integrating Jammu and Kashmir into the country's mainstream of family law is one that should be replicated for Goa, Daman and Diu, Pondicherry, Nagaland, and Mizoram, among other states and union territories across India.
Conclusion
Now, I'd like to conclude by saying that the secular laws should be made gender-neutral first and only then should the country consider reforming its religious laws. The only way forward is through piecemeal reform rather than the enactment of the UCC in one fell swoop. In fact, a just code is preferable to a uniform code in terms of effectiveness.

The fundamental rights of citizens to equality before the law and equal protection under the law, as guaranteed by the Constitution, call for a similar course of action to be taken in respect of these territories as well. As does the provision of Article 44, which obligates the state to make reasonable efforts to ensure that citizens have access to a uniform civil code throughout the country's territory.

The fundamental rights of citizens to equality before the law and equal protection under the law, as guaranteed by the Constitution, call for a similar course of action to be taken in respect of these territories as well. As does the provision of Article 44, which obligates the state to make reasonable efforts to ensure that citizens have access to a uniform civil code throughout the country's territory.

As the Common Civil Code would establish a plethora of laws to regulate the private lives of all residents regardless of religion, it may be a critical need. To be honest, it is the bedrock of genuine secularism. This dynamic shift would not only assist in eradicating gender-based oppression, but would also strengthen the nation's mainstream fabric and advance solidarity. There is a need to alter our social framework, which is rife with inequalities, divisions, and other factors that conflict with our Fundamental Rights.

The concept that underpins the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code is extremely complex and must be fully grasped before proceeding. Law is dynamic and changes in response to the demands of the time. UCC is also a concept for dealing with discriminatory personal laws and adapting to the changing social environment, among other things. The Code of Personal Laws is a secular code, which is essential in a country like India, where the concept of secularism is a fundamental part of the Constitution's structure.

It is not implemented consistently throughout India. The Goa Civil Code is the only uniform code in the world that is not uniform in its application. It is only applicable to citizens of Goa, and it also provides for some exceptions, which makes it non-uniform in application. Additionally, the codification of Hindu personal laws does not herald an end to the development of a uniform civil code. This is a major issue that needs to be addressed to simplify in all possible ways.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Priya Saw
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