“ARTICLE 44. Uniform Civil Code for the citizens: The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.”
The Directive Principles of the State Policy under the Constitution of India provides that the State shall endeavor to secure Uniform Civil Code to its citizens. Apparently, the concept of Uniform Civil Code is not alien to the national psyche. The Constitutional framers had already visualized the need for framing a Uniform Civil Code to its citizens at the ripe time.
Whenever the issue of U.C.C raises its head, a large political upheaval takes place and the citizenry is pushed to the other end amid discussions centered around religion and custom. Although the issue is purely constitutional and must be addressed by the legislature through proper and extensive discussions in Parliament.
It would be apt to deal with the scope and object of Article 44 as conceived by our Constitutional Framers. The object of Article 44 is to introduce a Uniform Personal Law for the purpose of national consolidation. The Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and of religion under Article 25. Article 25 seeks to divest the religion from Personal Laws and social relations and from laws governing inheritance succession and marriage. The object of Article 44 is not to encroach upon religious liberties for which Article 25 of the Constitution gives ample securities to the citizens.
Now, coming to the specific details of the words used under Article 44 and the real meaning ascribed by the Constitutional Framers to it. The question arises what do we mean by “Civil Code”? The word “Civil” may have several connotations and senses, but for Article 44 the word “Civil” is being used to express “Civil Law” which means the law (substantive as well as procedural) relating to the private rights of citizens in relation to each other and is to be distinguished from law such as International Law or Revenue Law and even Criminal Law where one of the parties is the State. Hence, Civil Law would deal with personal relationships of the citizens such as property, marriage, inheritance, adoption and the like.
The aforesaid definition of “Civil Law” as was conceived in by the Constitutional Framers for the Uniform Civil Code appearing under Article 44 was expressed and explained by Shri Alladi Krishna Ayyar in the Constituent Assembly.
Now, the question arise what do we mean by Personal Law? Although the Constitution does not define Personal Law but this expression appears in Entry 5 of List 3 of the 7th Schedule which runs as follows.
“5. Marriage and divorce; infants and minors; adoption; wills, intestacy and succession; joint family and partition; all matters in respect of which parties in judicial proceedings were immediately before the commencement of this Constitution subject to their personal law.”
From the aforesaid, it is amply clear that Personal Law means subjects pertaining to marriage, divorce, infants, adoption, wills, intestacy and succession, joint family and partition, and other residuary clauses.
DELIBERATIONS BY THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
Before inclusion of Article 44 in the Constitution of India, the Constituent Assembly had extensively deliberated upon the idea of U.C.C. It would be unfair to our forefathers if they are not quoted inextenso while opening the pandora of U.C.C. The Constituent Assembly debates through Mr. Mohammad Ismail Sahib, Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad, B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur, Mr. Hussain Imam, Shri K.M. Munshi, Shri Alladi Krishanaswami Ayyar and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar are quoted herein below.
Mr. Mohamad Ismail Sahib: Sir, I move that the following proviso be added to article 35: (Article 44 of the Constitution of India) “Provided that any group, section or community of people shall not be obliged to give up its own personal law in case it has such a law.”
Now the right to follow personal law is part of the way of life of those people who are following such laws; it is part of their religion and part of their culture. If anything is done affecting the personal laws, it will tantamount to interference with the way of life of those people who have been observing these laws for generations and ages. This secular State which we are trying to create should not do anything to interfere with the way of life and religion of the people.
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad:- [….] But during the 175 years of British rule, they did not interfere with certain fundamental personal laws. Today, even without article 35, there is nothing to prevent the future Parliament of India from passing such laws. Therefore, the idea is to have a uniform civil code. [….] They have been imposed gradually as occasion arose and they were intended to make the laws uniform although they clash with the personal laws of a particular community. But take the case of marriage practice and the laws of inheritance. They have never interfered with them. It will be difficult at this stage of our society to ask the people to give up their ideas of marriage, which are associated with religious institutions in many communities. The laws of inheritance are also supposed to be the result of religious injunctions. I submit that the interference with these matters should be gradual and must progress with the advance of time. I have no doubt that a stage would come when the civil law would be uniform. But then that time has not yet come. [….] I have therefore in my amendment suggested that religious laws relating to particular communities should not be affected except with their consent.
B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur – By uniform, I ask, what do you mean and which particular law, of which community are you going to take as the standard? [….] By this one clause you are revolutionizing the whole country and the whole setup. There is no need for it. [….] What is the purpose served by this uniformity except to murder the consciences of the people and make them feel that they are being trampled upon as regards their religious rights and practices? Such a tyrannous measure ought not to find a place in our Constitution. [….] as I take it, it is the duty of the majority to secure the sacred rights of every minority.
Mr. Hussain Imam: [….] I feel that it is all right and a very desirable thing to have a uniform law, but at a very distant date. For that, we should first await the coming of that event when the whole of India has got educated, when mass illiteracy has been removed, when people have advanced, when their economic conditions are better, when each man is able to stand on his own legs and fight his own battles. Then, you can have uniform laws.
Shri K.M. Munshi – A further argument has been advanced that the enactment of a Civil Code would be tyrannical to minorities. Is it tyrannical? Nowhere in advanced Muslim countries has the personal law of each minority been recognized as so sacrosanct as to prevent the enactment of a Civil Code. But I go further. When the Shariat Act was passed or when certain laws were passed in the Central Legislature in the old regime, the Khojas and Cutchi Memons was highly dissatisfied. [….] We want to divorce religion from personal law, from what may be called social relations or from the rights of parties as regards inheritance or succession. What have these things got to do with religion I really fail to understand? [….] But after all we are an advancing society. We are in a stage where we must unify and consolidate the nation by every means without interfering with religious practices. If however the religious practices in the past have been so construed as to cover the whole field of life, we have reached a point when we must put our foot down and say that these matters are not religion, they are purely matters for secular legislation. This is what is emphasised by this article. [….] They feel that the personal law of inheritance, succession etc. is really apart of their religion. If that were so, you can never give, for instance, equality to women. But you have already passed a Fundamental Right to that effect and you have an article here which lays down that there should be no discrimination against sex. [….] Therefore, there is no reason why there should not be a civil code throughout the territory of India. [….] There is one important consideration which we have to bear in mind-and I want my Muslim friends to realise this that the sooner we forget this isolationist outlook on life, it will be better for the country. Religion must be restricted to spheres which legitimately appertain to religion and the rest of life must be regulated, unified and modified in such a manner that we may evolve, as early as possible a strong and consolidated nation. Our first problem and the most important problem is to produce national unity in this country. We think we have got national unity. But there are many factors-and important factors-which still offer serious dangers to our national consolidation and it is very necessary that the whole of our life, so far as it is restricted to secular spheres, must be unified in such a way that as early as possible, [….] I hope our friends will not feel that this is an attempt to exercise tyranny over a minority; it is much more tyrannous to the majority.
Shri Alladi Krishanaswami Ayyar – The second objection was that religion was in danger, that communities cannot live in amity if there is to be a uniform civil code. The article actually aims at amity. It does not destroy amity. [….] It is not as if one legal system is not influencing or being influenced by another legal system. [….] Therefore, no system can be self-contained, if it is to have in it the elements of growth. There is no use clinging always to the past. We are departing from the past in regard to an important particular, namely, we want the whole of India to be welded and united together as a single nation. Are we helping those factors which help the welding together into a single nation, or is this country to be kept up always as a series of competing communities? That is the question at issue.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – I was very much surprised at that statement, for the simple reason that we have in this country a uniform code of laws covering almost every aspect of human relationship. [….] I can cite innumerable enactments which would prove that this country has practically a Civil Code, uniform in its content and applicable to the whole of the country. The only province the Civil Law has not been able to invade so far is Marriage and Succession. It is this little corner which we have not been able to invade so far and it is the intention of those who desire to have article 35 as part of the Constitution to bring about that change. [….] Coming to the amendments, [….] members who put forth these amendments say that the Muslim personal law, so far as this country was concerned, was immutable and uniform through the whole of India. Now I wish to challenge that statement. I think most of my friends who have spoken on this amendment have quite forgotten that up to 1935 the North-West Frontier Province was not subject to the Shariat Law. It followed the Hindu Law. That is not all. [….] Up till 1937 in the rest of India, in various parts, such as the United Provinces, the Central Provinces and Bombay, the Muslims to a large extent were governed by the Hindu Law in the matter of succession. In order to bring them on the plane of uniformity with regard to the other Muslims who observed the Shariat Law, the Legislature had to intervene in 1937 and to pass an enactment applying the Shariat Law to the rest of India. [….] The Mussulmans, therefore, in North Malabar were up to nowfollowing the Marumakkathyam law (matrilineal law) [….] I am quite certain that it would not be open to any Muslim to say that the framers of the civil code had done great violence to the sentiments of the Muslim community.
THE LAW COMMISSIONS ON UCC
The 21st Law Commission of India chaired by Justice B.S. Chauhan in its Consultation paper observed :
“While diversity of Indian culture can and should be celebrated, specific groups or weaker sections of the society must not be dis-privileged in the process. Resolution of this conflict does not mean abolition of difference. This Commission has, therefore, dealt with laws that are discriminatory rather than providing a uniform civil code which is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage ….. Most countries are now moving towards recognition of difference and the mere existence of difference does not imply discrimination, but is indicative of a robust democracy.”
It seems, The Law Commission was swayed in its Report by only recommending for removal of discrimination in personal laws of various religious groups viz. Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Parsis. In recommending so, the Commission has tangentially facilitated the way for incorporating U.C.C.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court on 13th September 2019 i.e within a year from the 21st Commission’s Report came heavily upon the government in Jose Paulo Coutinho v. Maria Luiza Valentina Pereira and Ors. and observed:
“It is interesting to note that whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard. Though Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country despite exhortations of this Court in the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano MANU/SC/0194/1985 : (1985) 2 SCC 556 and Sarla Mudgal and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. MANU/SC/0290/1995 : (1995) 3 SCC 635.”
The aforesaid observation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court clearly establishes that 21st Law Commission’s consultation paper was flawed and the country is in urgent need of the UCC.
Five years on, now The 22nd Law Commission of India has decided to solicit the views of the public and recognized religious organizations about the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). In a public notice dated 14.06.2023, the Commission headed by former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi stated:
“Initially the 21st Law Commission of India had examined the subject on Uniform Civil Code and solicited the views of all the stakeholders through its appeal along with a questionnaire dated 07.10.2016 and further public appeals/notices dated 19.03.2018, 27.03.2018 and 10.4.2018. Pursuant to the same, overwhelming responses have been received by the Commission. The 21st Law Commission has issued the consultation paper on “Reforms of Family Law” on 31.08.2018. Since more than three years have been lapsed from the date of issuance of the said Consultation Paper, bearing in mind the relevance and importance of the subject and also the various Court orders on the subject, the 22nd Law Commission of India considered it expedient to deliberate afresh over the subject. Accordingly, the 22nd Law Commission of India decided again to solicit views and ideas of the public at large and recognized religious organizations about the Uniform Civil Code.”
Since much has been discussed and deliberated, now it is for the government to work in tandem with the larger public view. The citizenry, today, is well informed and understands the need, therefore the government will have less friction in moving towards the desired goals.
INDIAN COURTS ON UCC
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has been consistently frowning upon the States conduct for keeping the Uniform Civil Code a dead letter till date. From 1985 up till 2019 the Hon’ble Supreme Court has been consistently speaking in favor of the Uniform Civil Code. In Mohammad Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum. The Hon’ble Supreme Court went on to observe that a Uniform Civil Code will help National integration by removing desperate loyalty of laws which have conflicting ideologies. The need for a Uniform Civil Code through the processes of legislature was emphasized by the Supreme Court by saying that justice to all is a far more satisfactory way of dispensing justice than justice from case to case.
In the Shah Bano’s case (supra) the Supreme Court laid down that, Muslim divorced women can claim maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. from her husband who divorced her.
In Danial Latifi vs. Union of India the Hon’ble Supreme Court creatively interpreting The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 preserved the right of divorced Muslim women for fair alimony even beyond the iddah period.
In Sarla Mudgal vs. Union of India a Hindu husband embraced Islam and solemnized second marriage. The question was whether the second marriage without first marriage having not been dissolved, would be valid quo the first marriage. The Court ruled that second marriage of Hindu husband after his conversion to Islam would be void marriage in terms of Section 494 of IPC. In Sarla Mudgal Case (supra) the Court emphasized that Article 44 is based on the concept that there is no necessary relation between religion and Personal Law in a civilized society. Article 25 guarantees religious freedom whereas; Article 44 divests religion from social relation and Personal Law. It further held that the marriage, succession and other like matters of a secular character cannot be brought within the guarantee enshrined in Articles 25, 26 and 27.
In ABC vs. State of NCT the Supreme Court again stressed for the Uniform Civil Code and observed “Christian unwed mothers in India are disadvantaged when compared to their Hindu counterparts, who are natural guardians of their illegitimate children by virtue of their maternity alone. It would be apposite for us to underscore that our Directive Principles envision the existence of a Uniform Civil Code, but this remains an unaddressed Constitutional expectation.”
The Muslim Law does not recognize adoption and instead professes “Kafala” system under which the child is placed under a “Kafil” who provides for the wellbeing of the child including financial support and is legally allowed to take care of the child. Further, the Islam does not recognize an adopted child to be at par with the biological child. An adopted child is the true descendent of biological parents and not that of adoptive parents. The adopted child cannot set claim of succession in the property of his adoptive parents and shall still have right of succession in biological parents. The issue come up before the Hon’ble Madras High Court in R.R. George Christopher. The Madras High Court did not accept the “Kafala” system although recognized by the United Nations Convention of Right of Child Care and held the settled principal of adoptive child rights while interpreting the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 in particular Sections 40 & 41 holding that this was the first secular law in India providing for adoption going in the spirit of Article 44 and further held that child shall be entitled for succession in the property of adoptive parents as he is re-integrated as child in the new family.
Section 58 (1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 provides for adoption of child to Indian prospective parents “irrespective of their religion”, to apply before the central agency. This section is a step further in the spirit of religion neutral and secular character of adoption process. Section 63 of the Act 2015 takes care of the rights of the adoptive child in the adoptive parents.
RELIGION AND UCC
At this juncture, it is relevant to explore the secular character of Article 25 (2) (a) in the Constitution of India which runs as follows
“25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
State is free and competent to make Uniform Law relating to secular aspects of religion by implementing Article 44 of the Constitution of India. Since, Personal Laws fall in the Concurrent List that is List 3 of the 7th Schedule in Entry 5, therefore, the State Government can legislate their own laws considering the customs and usages of various religious groups residing within it.
One country one law is not possible due to this reason that Personal Laws fall in Concurrent List. For instance, one of the most ignored groups – the tribals residing in few States across Central India and far Eastern State have the most complex customs and usages. The only way to protect their rights would be to have Uniform Civil Code enacted at the respective State Legislature.
U.C.C. must be religion neutral and therefore, it would be the foremost duty of the State to sieve religious aspects from the Principles of U.C.C. The U.C.C. is only concerned with Family Laws and therefore should not be confused with religious rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
UCC IN MARRIAGE LAWS
One of the most controversial issues for implementing U.C.C. in Marriage Laws is in respect of inter-religion-marriages. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 although addresses and makes secular provision for solemnizing inter-religious marriage but the process is so cumbersome and embarrassing that the prospective couples rarely resort to it. Ultimately such couples are led into the vicious circle of religious conversion.
Special Marriage Act 1954 is a Secular Law which requires extensive amendments and modifications especially the process of public notice for registration of such marriages. Humiliation under the public notice process deter the prospective couples from adopting the secular way.
The age of marriage for Hindu female is 18 and Male is 21 while Muslim law permits marriage when a person attains puberty. This again creates a disparity amongst religious groups while also mocking the child marriage restraint laws on India.
U.C.C. must make registration of marriages compulsory. Registration gives legal sanctity to marriages and protects women and children who forms a vulnerable class in itself. Process of divorce should also be made simpler. The Law Commission has long been recommending for easy divorce in cases of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The Divorce Law of different religious communities is governed by customs while it is only the Hindus who have a codified system in India.
Triple Talaq and like illegal practices were prevalent in Islamic communities causing great loss of life and liberty to Muslim Women. U.C.C. if enacted would give equal protection to all women and children in case of such Divorce Proceedings undertaken under it.
The conversion (religious) laws would be put to less burden if inter-religion marriages are permitted under the U.C.C.. Individuals converting to other religion solely for the purpose of marriage keep no faith in the converted religion consequently weakening the cultural fabric of the country.
Polygamy is recognized in Islamic Laws but with a caveat. Quran says that when you can justify the first marriage and is able to give equal rights and respect to other women only then you can marry second time. Further, Quran says that one cannot ever justify the first marriage. Therefore, in essence, even Islam does not allow polygamy.
U.C.C. IN ADOPTION AND CHILD RIGHTS
At present, country lacks laws of adoption in couples of live-in Relationships which is now recognized relationship under law. Such couples remain unregulated vis-a-vis adoption rights. As previously discussed, adoption laws in Islam are not at par with the current times. An adoptive child does not have any right in the property of adoptive parents. Islam stresses the practices of “Kafala.” Such practices would go against rights of a child. An adoptive child losing property rights in adoptive parents would have far reaching negative consequences. Christianity does not allow sole guardianship of mother without prior consent of biological father.
Anomalies pointed above can be redressed by implementation secular principles of U.C.C.. In child custody, the welfare of the child is of paramount importance. Welfare has not been defined in any code. Therefore, it must be taken care of in the U.C.C. Child custody will be an important issue as it would also address the current issues pertaining to the rights of LGBTQIA+ Community. The Laws in respect of LGBTQIA+ will have to be synchronized with U.C.C. vis-à-vis child custody and marriage in this community. The property rights of such children in couples of LGBTQIA+ Community will have to be addressed by the U.C.C.
U.C.C. IN INHERITENCE AND SUCCESSION
When inter-religious marriages are put to books under the U.C.C., the Inheritance Laws will also require streamlining. Diverse inheritance and Succession Laws of religious groups playing with unequal rights to men and women will have to be undone.
A Muslim man cannot bequeath more than 1/3rd of his property. On the other hand, a Hindu male can bequeath 100% of his property. Such anomaly creates a disparity and makes a Muslim old man at disadvantaged position. The senior citizens in all communities are required to be protected under the U.C.C.. Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 protects senior citizens and their property while also entitles them to claim maintenance.
U.C.C. might seem to be more Muslim and like religion reformative in nature but it will equally reform the Hindu Laws. For instance, the Hindu women were not given benefit of property under the archaic 1955 Laws. Much later, in 2005, Hindu daughters were given equal rights in the property. The succession laws for Muslim daughters again remains at a disadvantaged position in comparison to Hindu daughters. In Mohammadan Law the son gets twice the share as compare to the daughters.
Recently the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court in the case of Mayra and others vs.State of U.P. and others has extensively spoken in favor of U.C.C., paragraph 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81 and 82 of the Mayra case (supra) are quoted herein below.
(76) The Supreme Court, citing similar reasons and observations, focused on implementation of UCC in several cases, such as, Mohd. Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum MANU/SC/0194/1985 : 1985 (2) SCC 556; Jorden Diengdeh vs. S.C. Chopra MANU/SC/0195/1985 : 1985 (3) SCC 62; Smt. Saria Mudgal vs. Union of India MANU/SC/0290/1995 : 1995 (3) SCC 635. But later in Ahmedabad Women Action Group vs. Union of India MANU/SC/0896/1997 : 1997 (3) SCC 573, the court refused to entertain the writ petitions by observing that it is an issue of state policy with which the court will not ordinarily have any concern.
(77) In Mulla Tahir Saifuddin v. the State of Bombay 1962 AIR 853, the Supreme Court observed that for the application of Article 25(2)(a) it is necessary to classify religious practices into such, as are essential for a religious character and those which are not (secular aspect of religion). In Durgah Committee vs. Hussain MANU/SC/0063/1961 : 1961 AIR 1402, it said that whether a religious practice is an essential part of a religion is an objective question to be determined by the court and that the view of a religious denomination itself is not final.
(78) The existence of multifarious personal laws cannot be a valid defense when 08-09-2023 (Page 14 of 21) www.manupatra.com RAHUL SRIVASTAVA personal laws across the board violates fundamental rights. The catena of decisions of the Supreme Court consistently resonates the views expressed by the learned members of the Constituent Assembly in defence of Article 35, (Article 44), seven decades thereafter.
(79) After seven decades, since independence, the Indian society has transformed drastically and many customs and practices have evolved/received acceptance of the people which could never have been thought of or imagined a few decades back. The limited recognition of rights of L.G.B.T.Q. community; ‘live in’ relationship 30; legitimacy of children borne from such relationship; surrogacy; right of adoption by enacting secular law31; right to maintenance irrespective of personal law; recognizing single parent family; right of persons with disability etc. There has been a steep rise in intercommunity, intercaste and interfaith marriage/relationship, which has exploded specially in the last few decades. The society since 1950 has considerably evolved and the relationships, be it interfaith, inter culture, coupled with the rise in the number of single women requires a comprehensive Family Code which is in conformity with the changing times.
(80) The education and mobility, particularly, amongst women has drastically unleashed forces transforming the society. The fertility rate has considerably dropped. There has been a massive rise of women, women technocrats, both in India and of Indian origin abroad. Their presence is decisively and emphatically felt in government offices, corporates and they dominate the White House.
(81) Goa the only Indian State which has a uniform civil code applicable to all, also requires reform. The Family Laws of Goa are uniform in all respects is a misconception as pointed out by the Chairman of the Goa Law Commission.
(82) The piecemeal attempts of Courts to bridge the gap between personal laws cannot take the place of a common civil code. Justice to all is a far more satisfactory way of dispensing justice than justice from case to case. The Court has its limitations and cannot embark the activist role of providing a civil code. The Parliament has to step in and initiate the process of enacting the UCC by appointing a committee and/or, making a reference to the Law Commission.”
Evidently, Courts are concerned and have emphasized the need for immediate implementation of U.C.C. considering the fast pace development of the country and transformative cultural changes being taking place in recent times. U.C.C. shall benefit India in several ways such as:
(1) GENDER EQUALITY- Uniform Personal Laws could provide women with greater rights, protection and equal treatment eradicating discriminatory practices prevalent in some religious communities.
(2) SIMPLIFICATION OF ACCESS TO JUSTICE – Courts are already burdened with lakhs of cases pertaining to complicated Personal Laws. U.C.C. would streamline multiple laws and simplify legal process, making it easier for citizens to access justice without having to navigate through complicated Personal Laws.
(3) NATIONAL INTEGRATION – A common set of laws for all citizens independent of their religious or cultural evaluation would promote a sense of National Unity and Integration.
(4) SECULARISM AND EQUALITY – Implementing U.C.C. would strengthen the secular fabric of India affirming the principles of equality before the law and ensuring that Personal Laws do not perpetuate inequalities or discrimination.
UCC-IMPLEMENTATION AND BARRIERS
- Diversity of India– Religious and cultural diversity of the opposing faction raises a common argument that India is home to multiple religious and diverse cultural practices. Therefore, the idea of U.C.C. is flawed. Argument is basically in ignorant of Entry 5. in List 3 of the 7th Schedule read with article 25. State has been given ample powers under the Constitution to legislate in Personal Laws. Since, Indian States represent several different cultural identities and groups, State legislature shall be the best judge to sieve secular aspects from religious issues. It would not be difficult for the State to implement a Uniform Civil Code reconciling these differences and ensuring equal protection of laws to all. Communities and religious groups expressing pseudo threat can be tackled with extensive publication of government intentions and injecting correct information in the public domain.
- Religious Leaders- Mullahs, Padris and Pundits have consistently been raising arguments of threat to their religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Again, a fallacious argument, ignoring the protection granted to the State under Article 25(2)(a) whereby the State can legislate a issues which are secular in nature. The Threat perspective of such pretentious groups is completely ill founded as well as ignorant to the Constitution of India.
- Political challenges – India being a large country with cultural and religious diversity has always required representations from every nook and corner of the country. Regional political parties which stem themselves on the sole vote bank of religious or caste community would definitely create a hindrance in smooth legislation of U.C.C. Since the time is ripe and the stage is already set with citizenry already having achieved sufficient maturity political arguments soaked in vote bank politics will not work in current democratic setup. With an informed citizenry the politicians must also evolve themselves to cope with new age challenges and cultural issues.
- Complexity of reform and lack of legal awareness – The core issues which U.C.C shall attract are the Personal Laws including marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption. The diversity in culture of the country has consequently also made Personal Laws a complex net. Extensive deliberation and consensus building will be core challenge for the law makers. Many people in India especially those living in rural areas have limited understanding of Personal Laws. Implementing a Uniform Civil Code would require increased legal awareness and education to ensure compliance and effective implementation.
The present is the age of women and science. It is a time of modernity, equality and freedom. The archaic understanding of Personal Laws with religious aspects will no longer function in the present-day society. Equality and freedom are the core aspects of human existence. Disparity between man and man, women and women, child and child, will only disturb the peace and entangle the social fabric of the country.
U.C.C. is the concrete reply to such disparities between different groups following archaic and shackled thoughts attached in pseudo religious norms. The time has come when the country needs Uniformity in Civil Laws to advance in the race for development. The country is presently going through a crucial time when it is few steps away from stepping into a developed economy. Harmonizing the social fabric of the country will make the rapid advancement in achieving a word leader status.
Authors can be reached through email :
Chandan Sharma –
Advocate at Allahabad High Court
Rahul Srivastava – firstname.lastname@example.org