Stressing Need for Uniform Civil Code
Updated: Jan 18
India is a democratic country, abided by numerous laws to govern its sturdy population. As the population goes up, so are the cultural and ethnic diversities. So, if there is an absence of a proper framework to regulate the cultural ethos of the people, it would lead to a widespread conflict-ridden with superstitious taboos. Enlightened with this view, the policy frameworks had developed well organized personal laws.
But over time, the concept of equality had emerged with strong support globally, and thus in India, the stressing need for implementation of a Uniform Civil Code had evolved in the Contemporary Scenario.
Uniform Civil Code- Overview
From it's very meaning itself, it is clear that the Uniform Civil Code is the set of common governing rules, and an alternative for the existing personal laws based on the scriptures and the customs. The Uniform Civil Code is defined in our constitution under Article 44, of the Directive Principles of the State Policy. A uniform civil code refers to a single law, applicable to all citizens of India in their matters such as marriage, divorce, custody, adoption, and inheritance. It is intended to replace the system of fragmented personal laws, which currently govern interpersonal relationships and related matters within different religious communities. Directive Principles are defined in Article 37, which proclaims:
“The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.”
This effectively means that the vision of a Uniform Civil Code is enshrined in the Indian Constitution as a goal towards which the nation should strive, but it isn’t a fundamental right or a Constitutional guarantee. One can’t approach the court to demand a UCC.
Why There Should be A Uniform Civil Code?
A Uniform Civil Code has been a need of an Hour as our current socio-political arena is witnessing a remarkable change. There are several matters which stressed the Importance of Implementing a proper Uniform Civil Code. The personal laws differ from the different religions and the critics argue that there arises inconsistency in these laws. For example, there are certain inconsistencies in the Tax laws in these personal laws. Like in Hindu Undivided Families they are exempted from taxes whereas Muslims are exempted from paying stamps duty on gift deeds and also it deals with the problem of Honour killings by extra-constitutional bodies like Khap Panchayats.
Where some of them raise a question of violation of Article 14, i.e the right to equality persists in different personal laws. All Indian citizens are equal before the court of law. That is the criminal laws and other civil laws except personal laws are the same for all. So, the Uniform Civil Code is necessary to promote national integration.
After Independence, the State of Goa has adopted the Portuguese Civil Code which enforced a Uniform Civil Code for all its citizens. Under this code, a Married couple holds joint ownership in all assets owned and acquired by each spouse. Even Parents can’t disinherit their children entirely at least half of the property must be passed on to them. Muslim persons who have registered their marriage in Goa are not allowed to practice polygamy. The Uniform Civil Code thus ensures equal status to all citizens irrespective of their religion, class, caste, and also promotes gender equality.
While the Constitution itself specifies the need for implementing the Uniform Civil Code, the policy frameworks stagnate behind in formulating and implementing the same, is quite an Irony. However, with the decisions, the Supreme Court held in Shah Bano Begum's Case, as well as declaring the unconstitutionality of the Triple Talaq can be seen as an Optimistic approach of welcoming the Uniform Civil Code. Its adoption will be progressive legislation and with changing times, the need has arisen for having a Common Civil Code for all citizens, irrespective of religion, ensuring that their fundamental and Constitutional rights are protected. Even Secularism and National Integrity can also be strengthened by introducing the Uniform Civil Code.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Swathi. Ashok. Nair is currently pursuing Law at the School of Legal Studies, CUSAT, Kerala.
They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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