Uniform Civil Code
01, Sep 2018
Prelims level : Indian Polity Mains level : Paper - II Governance
- Law commission submitted a report on uniform civil code.
- In June 2016 through a reference by the Government of India, the Law Commission was entrusted with the task of addressing the issues concerning a uniform civil code.
Uniform Civil Code
- Article 44 of constitution of India provides Uniform Civil Code for the citizens – “The state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”.
- Uniform civil code in India is a term referring to the concept of an overarching civil law code in India. This displaces the right of citizens to be governed under different personal laws which exist in the society
Subject’s under Personal Law:
- Marriage and divorce Compulsory Registration of Marriages, Adultery, Age of Consent for Marriage.
- Grounds for Divorce, Community of Property upon Divorce and Maintenance, Presumption of Marriage for Cohabiting Couples, Polygamy.
- CUSTODY AND GUARDIANSHIP of children, Natural Guardian of Adoptive son, Inheritance Rights of the Adopted Child.
- INHERITANCE AND SUCCESSION, Rights of females related to agricultural land.
- Inheritance rights of illegitimate children.
Merits of UCC:
- Various aspect of prevailing personal laws deprivilege women.
- Codification of discriminatory custom regardless of how commonly acceptable they may be, can lead to crystallisation of prejudices or stereotypes.
- The practices which do not conform with basic tenets of human rights are nor are they essential to religion so it should be changed. The main aim of U.C.C is to unite all Indians irrespective of religion, caste and also gender. Most of the persons wants this U.C.C for uniting the minds of different religion
- Presence of different personal laws creates a clouded atmosphere of confusion and is also hard to follow.
- The sixth schedule of the constitution of India provides certain protections to a number of states. While some tribal laws in fact protect matriarchal systems of family organisations some of these also preserve provisions which are not in the interest of women. There are further provisions that allow for complete autonomy on matter of family law which can also be adjudicated by the local panchayats which once again, follow their own procedures.
- Different personal laws govern the institutions like marriage, inheritance, divorce etc.,
- A common Civil Code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies.
- Main issue lies in the fact that its implementation of a country of diverse cultural diversity would be virtually impossible.
- Uniform Civil Code is divisive and will lead to social unrest, and that It is against the spirit of the Constitution, which safeguards the right of citizens to practice their culture and religion,
- The first foreseeable problem with feasibility is with respect to the sixth schedule of the Constitution. Articles 371 (A) to (I) and the sixth schedule of the constitution of India provides certain protections or rather exceptions to the states of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh and Goa with respect to family law. • There is no consensus among different stakeholders.
- No proper guiding principle of what is UCC.
- Vote bank politics makes it difficult to implement.
- In order to address this inequality, the commission has suggested a range of amendments to existing family laws and also suggested codification of certain aspects of personal laws so as to limit the ambiguity in interpretation and application of these personal laws.
- The best way forward may be to preserve the diversity of personal laws but at the same time ensure that personal laws do not contradict fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
- The legislature should first consider guaranteeing equality within communities ‘between men and women, rather than equality between ‘communities.
- Different laws must be codified over time for various communities to slowly align them with constitutional values. 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.
- It is the State which entrusted with the duty of securing a uniform civil code for the citizens of the country and, unquestionably, it has the legislative competence to do so. A beginning has to be made if the Constitution is to have any meaning.
- No legal change can satisfy all sections of the society but that does not mean that legislative changes should not be contemplated.
- While there is certainly a desire for change, there is also equally a need to acknowledge the hindrances to any endeavours to institute a uniform civil code.
- It is important to strengthen the local initiatives that are bringing about piecemeal changes.
- The efforts of Non-Government Organisations that are working towards creating awareness about UCC must be encouraged
- The conversation and debates have to begin on the uniform civil code which focus on family laws of all religions and the diversity of customary practices, to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws.
- The recent Supreme Court judgment Shayara Bano v. Union of India outlawing the practice of triple talaq has taken a first step towards ending personal law practices that are discriminatory towards women but largely on the premise that triple talaq is also not an essential practice of Islam suggesting that bad in theology cannot be good in law.
- Taking this as initiative government should move towards achieving UCC. Thus, while framing a law it has to be borne in mind and cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.