Uniform civil code, as enshrined in article 44 of Indian constitution as a
Directive Principal of State Policy has now become an absolute necessity for the
country of India. Given the situation of the country as we are living in, and
given the rise in conflict in interest of various religions and their religious
rituals, has totally changed the agenda of the country. Every now and then,
there have been debates over the rule of Law over the ritualistic culture of
There have been talks as we have same criminal, contractual and other laws
applied uniformly to the people across the nation without any discrimination,
why there should be different law for each religion and have conflict of
interests, when they could be just regulated by a single law altogether. As it
resolves various issues of conflict, split between other uniform civil and
criminal laws and these personal laws which are different for every religion, as
well as increases the unity of the people of the nation altogether as it unites
all the people with the same set of laws, and bars any such undesirable
India is a secular country implying it has no religion and prefers no religion
over any other and treats every religion as same, then why not bring all the
personal laws into one so as to remove all such aberrations and hindrances that
such laws pose to the delivering of justice and providing equal rights. Hindus
governed by Hindu Marriage Act (1955) and Christian by Christians Marriage
Act(1872), Muslims by Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act(1937).
Such different laws create a sense of prejudice and discrimination in between
the communities governed by them, and such communalism stops them from thinking
that they are the same and represent the country as a whole. Criminal and
contractual laws apply equally, the problem arises when it comes to personal
laws, the growing differences which are led by religious texts, personal beliefs
of various religions.
Discrimination happens on basis of religious texts, another problem with such
personal laws being that they discriminate on the basis of gender to the mankind
and prefer men over another, giving a severe blow to the feminist movement which
show that women too have a tough mettle.
Take the example of Triple Talaq and polygamy, such practices secured under
Muslim personal law are adversely affecting the women of this age and are
playing a very discriminatory game with their humanistic and basic rights. Such
personal laws also come in conflict with the fundamental rights as enshrined in
The most cliché and repetitive counter-argument that comes to the front when
proposing the uniform civil code is that:
Freedom of religion as enshrined in article 25-28 are fundamental rights too,
and cannot be violated.
(which is not even a issue and why so will be addressed later in this article)
nevertheless taking this argument as true, we still can say that social evils
such as child marriage, Triple Talaq, polygamy, gender discrimination within
community cannot be saved and preserved just because they come under the pretext
of freedom of religion. What is an evil, must be rectified and must be replaced
with a better facilitated and regulated law.
Personal laws, which comprise of marriage, divorce, adoption and
transfer/inheritance of property, come in conflict with the other equally
applicable laws and create a block in administering justice on time and also
came at loggerheads with the evolving justice and judiciary at the same time.
The most notable incident being the Shah Bano case
, which stated that a
muslim women is entitled to compensation even after the Iddat period, which was
in contrast with the personal laws of the Muslim community.
The supreme court ruled s.125 of Cr.P.C. over the personal laws stating that:
Such provisions that are essentially of prophylactic nature cut across the
barriers of religion. The liability imposed by section 125 to maintain close
relatives who are indigent is founded upon the individual's obligation to the
society to prevent vagrancy and destitution. That is the moral edict of the law
and morality which cannot be clubbed with religion.
Similarly there have been different adoption/inheritance laws, which come in
contrast with the fundamental and human rights of a person. Take another
example of Lata Mittal , who after a long battle of 20-years won a right to
have share in the ancestral property which was earlier prohibited according to
Hindu personal law till then.
Such instances show us the urgent need to extirpate such practices and laws
related to it and formulate a singular law that governs the entire nation with
same set of rules. What is been proposed that, all such good practices from the
personal laws be kept in the uniform civil code, only removing such hindering
and evil practices.
India is a diverse country with endless cultural differences and practices, one
practice contrasting other one, practices going over the top, violating the
constitution, thus unifying them in one single law will increase the unity in
people, efficiency of the court in delivering justice and harmonized and
synchronized religious & personal law.
Dr. Ambedkar in constituent assembly while framing article 44, famously said
that there is a need for uniform civil code, but we have to put it in a cold bag
as of now and for some time to come , implying when people will be socially
aware and will be more prudentially making informed religious choices, the UCC
can be applied.
There have been various discrimination with women, in almost all the religions,
giving preferential treatment to men, which goes against the idea of equality,
and various practices that are inherently discriminatory, since India has a very
long list of such culture and personal laws, it is practically impossible to
check and reform properly all those laws. The better solution be a all new
uniform civil code for all the religion considered equal and be treated equal in
the eyes of law in the nation which calls itself a secular one. Only with the
introduction of uniform civil code, the India can become truly Secular.
Uniform Civil Code is a one stop solution for all the existing conflicts of the
personal laws and discrimination in the community that has been going on since
It helps in three major folds:
- It promotes the idea of equality, justice and unity among the citizens
of the country as they will be under the same law and will have same
procedures to follow. They will also be given legal rights, which long have
been neglected in the personal laws due to the fact that these personal laws
are authorized by centuries-old books and beliefs which are not relevant in
contemporary scenario. Women will get their rights which have long been
neglected in personal laws. And such legal rights as well many more will be
in consonance with the evolving society.
- It reduces the load of various different personal laws in existence
within our country. And will decrease the delay in getting justice as the
judges won't have to delve deeper into each religion's personal laws and
decisions will be made in accordance with the UCC, it will also save a lot
of time in proceeding and will be same for dispute of every religion and
equal justice be provided to everyone irrespective of his/her religion.
- The secularity of India is not achieved until it treats all the religion
as same, and that can only be done by UCC. Article 44 will also in some
length will not violate article 25 & 26 as the matters governed by UCC are
also the matter that are considered secular and can also be regulated by the
state, hence if the state rectifies any problem from these practices or
altogether makes a new law comprising/combining such things it simply comes
under the purview of the legitimate action of the government.
Coming to the issue of practicality, we already know, there is a law pertaining
to marriage i.e. Special Marriage Act,1954, which is applicable to everyone
irrespective of the religion of the person, and it has been a success, so why
cannot be a UCC for the entire nation.
We have to think of the issue more clearly and understand the necessity that
this code poses for the current state of India. We have to make people more
socially aware about the benefits of the code and make them intelligent enough
to understand and accept this idea of a uniform code as a necessity. Only then
with gradually applying this code, we can eventually apply it on the whole
country with people happily accepting it.
Written By: Somendra Bajpai
- 2nd year student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia
National Law University