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Uniform Civil Code

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Uniform Civil Code:


Context:

Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde recently lauded Goa’s Uniform Civil Code, and encouraged “intellectuals” indulging in “academic talk” to visit the state to learn more about it.

  • UCC in Goa applies in marriage and succession, governing all Goans irrespective of religious affiliation.

Background:

Whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard.

What is uniform civil code?

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.
  • Gender justice: The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. 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.

Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?

Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters – Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.

Why is UCC not desirable at this point?

  • Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
  • 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.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UCC.
  2. What are DPSPs.
  3. Enforcement of DPSPs.
  4. Shah Bano case is related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss why is UCC not desirable for India at this point?

Sources: Indian Express.