Delhi High court said recently while underlining the need for such a Uniform Civil code in the country. Because people belonging the different communities, tribes, caste, or religions, who formalize their marriage should not be forced to struggle with issues arising because of the conflict raise in religiously personal laws especially when it comes to divorce and marriages.
Along with this, the Delhi High Court has also urged to send a copy of the judgment to the Law Ministry. So that the Law Ministry can try to implement it as soon as possible.
When BJP came into power in 2019, there were three major challenges in mind:
1 . Abrogationnof Article 370
2. Resolve the long time dispute of Ayodhya
3. Uniform Civil Code.
Where two of the agendas had been completed and UCC is still pending to be implemented.
What is Uniform Civil Code?
The constitution in Article 44 requires the state to strive to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Under this Bill, all the people of India, whether male or female, will get equal rights.
Uniform civil code in simple term One nation One legislation. It essentially means unifying personal law to bring one state of secular laws for all citizens of India across Religions.
Presently in India, every religion has its own law about personal matters such as marriage, divorce inheritance, adoption, guardship and etc. For example Hindu marriage act, Muslims’ personal law, Parsi marriage act, divorce act, and Interfaith marriages act, etc.
Hindu personal law is categorized in four bills:
● The Hindu marriages Act
● Hindu Succession Act
● Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act
● Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.
● Also, the term Hindu is used for Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists.
What is the need for the Uniform Civil Code?
■ The court observed that with the Indian society becoming more homogenous, the youth of India belong to various tribes, caste or religions should not be forced to grapple with issues due to conflicts in personal law.
■ According to the Delhi High court, implementation of this law will address discrimination against vulnerable groups of society. It will also reduce the gender gap and will promote National Integration. This fact is further supported by Article 44 of the Indian constitution.
However, the Uniform Civil Code here constrains individual rights.
● Individual’s rights ( Rights of Muslim women, against polygamy, against triple talaq)
● Collective group rights: rights of the religious community as a whole i/e/ right of the community to have their cultural and religious law preserved).
“On December 2, 1948, Dr, B, R. Ambedkar also supported UCC but also denied imposing it on people.”
What does Article 44 of the Indian Constitution say?
Article 44 is one of the directives principles its says that states shall endeavor to secure for Uniform Civil code for citizens throughout the territory of India. This as defined in article 37 is not justifiable, but the principles laid down their fundamental governance.
Goa has implemented the Portuguese Civil Code and all citizens of Goa should abide by it. Under this code, the married couples hold joint ownership in all assets owned and acquired by each spouse. Even parents can’t disinherit their children entirely, at least half the property should pass to them.
Muslims, who have registered their marriage in Goa, is not allowed to practice Polygamy.
SatPrakash Meena vs Alka Meena case:
There was a family matrimonial dispute, where Satprakash Meena filed a petition in family court to divorce her wife under the Hindu marriage act, 1955 (HMA). But Alka Meena contests that case and said on her side that they belong to the Meena community, which is a notified Tribe community. So under this community, the Hindu Marriage Act is not maintainable.
Then petitioner means husband submitted that the marriage was solemnized as per Hindu rites and customs and, therefore the HMA would be squarely applicable.
Also, it was further argued that if the court holds that the SC community Meena is not governed by the Hindu marriage act of, 1955, then it would lead to difficulties for women.
But on the other side, the respondent-wife submitted that judgment from the various courts, including the supreme court.
Where clearly stated that even if Hindu customs are being followed in Meema marriage, but it does not mean that HMA is applicable on notified schedule tribes.
After the Delhi court analyzed that in case of divorce proceeding if proper tribal customers are not established or the parties admit to following Hindu rituals and customs, there is no reason to hold the provisions of the Hindu marriage act, are not applicable.
So, the court allowed the appeal and directed the trial court to proceed with the divorce procedure. Delhi high court made their judgment relying on the famous case Mohd, Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begam case.
Although at that time also the Supreme Court had suggested the Law Ministry make the UCC, but it has not been implemented to date.
History of the Union Civil Code:
British government submitted its report in 1835 demanding the requirement of uniformity and the codification of various Indian laws. But he asked to keep personal laws out of the uniform code due to diversity in practices. After which the BN Rau Committee had codified Hindu Law in 1941. And after that the Hindu Succession Act 1956 was amended.
Muslims’ marriages and divorce are governed by the Shariat Application Act and the Dissolution of Muslims Marriage Act.
Christian marriage and divorce are governed by Indian Christain Marriage Act and Indian Divorce Act, Where Zoroastrians are related to Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act.
Other than this, there are more laws for Interfaith marriage as Special Marriage Act and Guardians and Wards Act. Although the code has been kept in the DPSP for now, it can be marked as essentials when the time comes.
Positive Impact of UCC:
● Provide equality to citizens irrespective of their religion, class, caste, gender, etc.
● To promote gender equality.
● This will help in national Integration which will strengthen secularism in the country.
● No need to reform existing personal law.
Negative aspects of UCC:
● It can somewhere clash with the freedom of religion mentioned in article 25 of the Indian constitution.
● Due to the diversity of India, it is tough to come up with a common set of rules.
● Although the favors of the constitution also promised that UCC will not be imposed forcefully.
UCC is now a very sensitive matter. The debate over UCC has been going on since 1949. But now BJP is in power, but also it is not easy to implement. Because BJP has to convince all communities that this UCC is to reform them not to suppress them. It also counterattacks freedom of religion (Article 25 of the Indian constitution).
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