Uniform Civil Code

What is UCC?
Uniform civil code is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set governing every citizen.  These laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance.
What the constitution says?
  • Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code.
  • According to article 44,”The State shall endeavour 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.
Historical Background:
  • Uniform Civil Code was one of the key issues debated during the writing of the Constitution, with passionate arguments on both sides. However, unable to arrive at a solution, a directive principle was struck regarding this in the constitution.
  • But, several members of the Constituent Assembly disagreed vehemently with the compromise and argued that one of the factors that have kept India back from advancing to nationhood has been the existence of personal laws based on religion which keep the nation divided into watertight compartments in many aspects of life.
  • Though, after independence, few governments tried to have a UCC, religious conservative groups did not allow governments to proceed ahead in this regard.
Why India needs a Uniform Civil Code?
  • To provide equal status to all citizens.
  • To support the national integration.
  • To bypass the contentious issue of reform of existing personal laws.
  • Various Courts judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code.
Problems in the implementation of UCC
  • Practical difficulties due to diversity in India.
  • Perception of UCC as encroachment on religious freedom.
  • Time is not yet suitable for this reform as there is a major opposition from several communities.
Law Commission’s stand:
  • In 2018, Law Commission of India consultation paper had said that the Uniform Civil Code is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage in the country. The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
Uniform Civil Code in Goa:
  • Goa was a former Portuguese colony. It was annexed into the Union of India in 1961. In 1987,Goa was made a separate state.
  • The Uniform Civil code(UCC) was introduced in Goa by the erstwhile Portuguese rulers. It was retained even after the territory was merged with India in the year 1961.
  • It is the only state in the country where uniform civil code is applicable to all regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.
Why is UCC being opposed by Muslim Bodies?
According to the Muslim board, “The uniform code is not suited for this nation. There are so many cultures in India and they have to be respected. A uniform code is against the spirit of the Constitution, which safeguards the right of citizens to practise their culture and religion.” Also, UCC, when implemented, will bring to an end country’s pluralism and paint all in “one colour”.
Allahabad High Court on UCC:
  • Need for Uniform Code: On hearing petitions filed by inter-faith couples, the court observed a steep rise in inter-community, inter-caste and interfaith marriages and called for a comprehensive Family Code which is in conformity with the changing times.

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