Q. What do you understand by Uniform Civil Code? Examine its relevance for a secular country like India and challenges in its implementation. (250 words)14 Oct, 2019 GS Paper 1 Indian Society
- Explain the concept of Uniform Civil Code in the introduction.
- Mention the relevance of UCC and challenges in its implementation.
- Conclude by suggesting whether there is a need to implement UCC at this point of time.
- A Uniform Civil Code means that all sections of the society irrespective of their religion shall be treated equally according to a national civil code, which shall be applicable to all uniformly.
- It shall cover areas like marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance, adoption and succession of the property.
- It is based on the premise that there is no connection between religion and law in modern civilization.
Relevance of UCC for a secular country like India:
- Spirit of secularism: A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
- Ensuring gender justice: The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim personal laws. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
- Adhering to constitutional vision: Many practices governed by religious traditions are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. Hence, constitutional principles of equality, liberty, justice can only be achieved under a UCC.
Supreme Court has repeatedly exhorted the Parliament to implement UCC in its judgements in the Shah Bano case 1985, Sarla Mudgal Case 1995 and more recently it argued that “Portuguese Civil Code of 1867” in Goa is a shining example and should be a model for the entire country.
Challenges in its implementation
- Difficulty in formation of common laws: The task of actually devising a set of rules that will govern all communities is difficult considering the vast range of interests and sentiments to be accounted for.
- Plurality of Indian society: Cultural diversity cannot be compromised for the sake of uniformity.
- Threat to territorial integrity: The idea of UCC faces opposition from different cultural groups. This opposition may give rise to communalism, regionalism and a threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.
- Politicization of the issue: Attempts to arrive at UCC is perceived as imposition of majoritarian views on certain section of minorities.
- Impacts Fundamental Right to practise religion enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution.
- Non justifiable nature of DPSPs: UCC is mentioned in Article 44, Part IV-A – Directive Principles of State Policy which states that “the State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. DPSPs are only guidelines which can be implemented as per time and situation.
- As recommended by the Law Commission in its consultation paper in 2018, UCC is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.” The commission stresses on efforts to reconcile the country's diversity with universal arguments on human rights.
- There is a need for 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.
- Codification could help arrive at certain universal principles which may facilitate prioritising equity rather than imposition of a Uniform Code.
- Meanwhile the judiciary and the legislature should continue with its piecemeal approach in reforming illegitimate cultural practices like the Triple Talaq law.