About the Uniform Civil Code:

  • UCC is a bill that would establish a single law for the entire country, which would apply to all religious sects in personal concerns such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption.
  • According to Article 44 of the Constitution, the state must make every effort to provide citizens with a UCC throughout India’s territory.
  • One of the Directive Principles of State Policy is Article 44. (DPSP).
  • The DPSP, as described in Article 37, are not justiciable (that is, they cannot be enforced by a court), but the concepts they establish are essential in government.

In India, the status of uniform codes is as follows:

  • Most civil matters in India are governed by a standard code, such as the Indian Contract Act of 1872, the Civil Procedure Code, the Transfer of Property Act of 1882, the Partnership Act of 1932, and the Evidence Act of 1872.
  • States, on the other hand, have made hundreds of revisions, and as a result, even under these secular civil rules, there is variance in certain areas.
  • Several states have recently declined to be controlled by the 2019 Uniform Motor Vehicles Act.

Background:

  • The UCC has its origins in colonial India, when the British government issued a report in 1835 emphasizing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, and specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be left out of such codification.
  • In 1941, the government formed the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law due to an increase in legislation dealing with personal concerns at the end of British rule.
  • Following these recommendations, the Hindu Succession Act was passed in 1956, amending and codifying the legislation relating to intestate or unwilled succession among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.
  • There were, however, different personal laws for Muslims, Christians, and Parsis.
  • The courts have frequently said in their rulings that the government should strive toward a UCC in order to bring uniformity.

Judicial Cases related to UCC:

  • The Shah Bano case verdict from 1985 is well-known.
  • The Sarla Mudgal Case (1995), for example, dealt with the subject of bigamy and the discrepancy between existing personal rules on marriage.
  • By claiming that behaviors like triple talaq and polygamy jeopardize a woman’s right to a dignified existence, the Centre has raised the question of whether constitutional protection for religious practices should extend to those that violate fundamental rights.

Personal Law Implications of the Uniform Civil Code:

Vulnerable Sections of Society are Safeguarded:

  • The UCC attempts to safeguard disadvantaged groups, including as women and religious minorities, as envisioned by Ambedkar, while simultaneously boosting nationalistic ardour via unity.
  • Laws will be simplified: The code will make the complicated laws of marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions more accessible to everyone. All citizens, regardless of their faith, will be subject to the same civil law.
  • Secularism is the goal expressed in the Preamble, and a secular republic requires a common law for all citizens rather than differentiating standards based on religious customs.
  • Gender Justice: If the UCC passes, all personal laws will be abolished. Existing laws that discriminate against women will be repealed.

Challenges:

Central Family Law Exceptions:

  • All central family law Acts approved by Parliament since Independence stipulate that they shall apply to “the entire country of India, excluding the state of Jammu and Kashmir.”
  • “Nothing herein included shall apply to the Renoncants in the Union Territory of Pondicherry,” a second exception was introduced to all of these Acts in 1968.
  • With the exception of Goa, Daman, and Diu, none of these Acts apply.
  • Articles 371A and 371G of the Constitution, which apply to the north-eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram, specify that no parliamentary legislation will supplant the customary law and religion-based system for governance.

  • Politics in the Community:

  • In the framework of community politics, the demand for a uniform civil code has been made.
  • A significant portion of the population views it as majoritarianism disguised as social change.
  • Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which attempts to maintain the right to practice and propagate any religion, clashes with the equality principles stated in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Next Steps:

  • The government and society must work hard to build trust, but more crucially, find common ground with social reformers rather than religious conservatives.
  • Rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach, the government might gradually incorporate characteristics like marriage, adoption, succession, and maintenance into a UCC.
  • The codification of all personal laws is urgently needed so that prejudices and stereotypes in each one can be exposed and tested against the Constitution’s fundamental rights.

Source The Hindu

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