- Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
Uniform Civil Code
What to study?
For Prelims: Constitutional provisions related to Uniform Civil Code.
For Mains: UCC- need, concerns, challenges and is it suitable for India?
Context: The Delhi High Court was recently informed that the issue of framing a Uniform Civil Code will be placed for consideration before the 22nd Law Commission once it is constituted.
What is uniform civil code?
Uniform civil Code is a proposal to have a generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion.
What the constitution says?
Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.
India needs a Uniform Civil Code for the following reasons:
- A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
- Another reason why a uniform civil code is needed is gender justice. The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
- Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
- Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.
Why is UCC is not desirable at this point?
Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country. Besides, 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.
The term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assures the expression of any form of difference. This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority. At the same time, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.
What is needed now?
The way forward may not be UCC, but the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and can be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution. By codification of different personal laws, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritise equity rather than imposition of a Uniform Code, which would discourage many from using the law altogether, given that matters of marriage and divorce can also be settled extra-judicially.
Sources: the Hindu.