- Prelims:Uniform civil Code, Directive Principles of State Policy etc
- Mains GS Paper II:Government policies and interventions for development of various sectors, weaker sections of society and interventions for their development etc
- Gujaratjoined the list of States that have called for implementing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE
Uniform Civil Code:
- It provides for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.
- Article 44: It lays down that the state shall endeavor to secure a UCC for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
Constituent Assembly about the UCC:
- Sub-committee on fundamental rights(headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel): It decided that securing a UCC was not within the scope of fundamental rights.
- Member Naziruddin Ahmad from Bengal:UCC would come in the way of Article 19 of the draft Constitution-now Article 25(which guarantees the right to freedom of religion subject to public order, morality, and health).
- Member K.M. Munshi: UCC will promote the unity of the nation and equality for women.
- B.R. Ambedkar:He stated that the Article “merely” proposed that the state shall endeavor to secure a UCC, which means it would not impose it on all citizens.
Arguments in favour of UCC:
- Uniformity in cases: India does have uniformity in most criminal and civil matters like the Criminal Procedure Code, Civil Procedure Code etc
- Gender Justice:If a UCC is enacted, all personal laws will cease to exist. It will do away with gender biases in existing laws.
- Secularism: A secular nation needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
- Various communities in India: Example: All Hindus are not governed by a homogenous personal law even after the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill.
- Shariat Act: There is no uniform applicability when it comes to the Muslim personal law or the Shariat Act 1937.
- Hindu Marriage Act of 1955:It prohibits marriages amongst close relatives but they are considered auspicious in the south of India.
- Hindu Succession Act of 1956: Wives are not coparceners(a person who shares equally with others in the inheritance of an undivided estate) nor do they have an equal share in inheritance.
Arguments against UCC:
- Plurality in already codified civil and criminal laws: So concept of ‘one nation, one law’ cannot be applied to diverse personal laws of various communities.
- Constitutional law experts: Framers did not intend total uniformity.
- Example: Personal laws were placed in Concurrent List(power to legislate being given to Parliament and State Assemblies).
- Customary laws: Many tribal groups in the country, regardless of their religion, follow their own customary laws.
- Communal Politics: The demand for a uniform civil code is considered to be framed in the context of communal politics.
- Article 25: It seeks to preserve the freedom to practice and propagate any religion.
Supreme Court judgements about implementation of UCC:
Law Commission about UCC:
- Unified nation did not necessarily need “uniformity: Secularism could not contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
- UCC: It is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.
Recommendation by Law Commission:
- Discriminatory practices, prejudices and stereotypes within a particular religion and its personal laws should be studied and amended.
- Fixing the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18 years: So that they are married as equals
- Simplifying the divorce procedure:Making adultery a ground for divorce for men and women.
What is the government’s stance?
- Government: No plans to set up a panel to implement the UCC.
- The chairperson and members of 22nd Law Commission(2021): They have not yet been appointed.
- Separate aspects in stages: The Government could bring separate aspects such as marriage, adoption, succession and maintenance into a UCC in stages.
- Government and society: They can make common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives.
- Codification of all personal laws: 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.
QUESTION FOR PRACTICE
- Constitutional Morality’ is rooted in the Constitution itself and is founded on its essential facets. Explain the doctrine of ‘Constitutional Morality’ with the help of relevant judicial decisions. (UPSC 2021)
(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)