ICFAI University, Dehradun
Uniform Civil Code In India
Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, not absorbed.
A Uniform Civil Law indicates that all segments of society, regardless of faith, are treated equally under a national civil code that is universally applied to all.
They address topics such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance, adoption, and property succession. It is founded on the concept that in modern civilization, there is no relationship between religion and law.
What exactly is Article 44?
Article 44 conforms to the Directive Principles of State Policy, which state that the state must endeavor to provide its inhabitants with a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout India's territory.
Debate on the Uniform Civil Code
Historical background - The discussion for a standard civil code in India extends back to the colonial era.
Prior to Independence (colonial era)
The October 1840 Lex Loci Report emphasized the need and necessity of consistency in the codification of Indian law pertaining to crimes, evidence, and contract. However, it also suggested that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be preserved apart from such codification.
The Queen's Proclamation of 1859- It guaranteed total non-interference in religious affairs.
While criminal laws were codified and became universal throughout the country, personal laws are still controlled by unique rules for local areas.
Postcolonial epoch (1947-1985)
During the constitution's writing, major figures such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar advocated for a written constitution.
However, because to criticism from religious conservatives and a lack of knowledge among the population at the time, they incorporated the UCC in the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP, Article 44).
Among the reforms implemented during this time period were:
Dr. B R Ambedkar created the Hindu Code Bill to alter Hindu laws, which allowed divorce, outlawed polygamy, and granted daughters inheritance rights. Despite strong resistance to the code, a weakened form was enacted through four distinct legislations.
The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 did not initially provide daughters inheritance rights in ancestral property. They could only request a right to food from a united Hindu family. However, on September 9, 2005, an amendment to the Act eliminated this difference.
Indian Marriage Act
Act Concerning Minors and Guardianship
Adoption and Support Act
Act Concerning Special Marriages:
It was passed in 1954 and allowed for civil weddings without regard for religious beliefs.
Case of Shah Banu (1985):
Shah Banu, 73, was divorced by her husband using triple talaq (saying "I divorce thee" three times) and was refused support. She went to court, and both the District Court and the High Court found in her favor. As a result, her husband filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, claiming that he had completed all of his requirements under Islamic law.
The Supreme Court found in her favor in 1985 under the All-India Criminal Code's "maintenance of spouses, children, and parents" clause (Section 125), which applied to all citizens regardless of religion. It also suggested that a standard civil code be established.
The following are the case facts:
According to Muslim personal law, maintenance had only to be paid until iddah’s time period (three lunar months-roughly 90 days ).
Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which applied to all citizens, allowed for the wife's sustenance.
Impact — Following this historic judgement, there were widespread discussions, gatherings, and agitations. Under duress, the then-government approved the Muslim Women's (Right to Divorce Protection) Act (MWA) in 1986, rendering Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code inapplicable to Muslim women.
Arguments in support of the Uniform Civil Code include the following:
· It will unite India—India is a diverse country with numerous religions, cultures, and rituals. A single civil code would help India integrate more than it has since independence. It will aid in unifying all Indians, regardless of caste, religion, or ethnicity, under a single national civic code of behavior.
· Will Aid in the Reduction of Vote Bank Politics- A UCC will also aid in the reduction of vote bank politics, which most political parties engage in during every election.
· Personal Laws Are a Loophole- By legalizing personal laws, we have created another judicial system that still functions on values that date back thousands of years. A unified civil code would affect all of that.
Suggestions for Putting a Uniform Civil Code in Place:
· To achieve the DPSP's aims and ensure legal consistency, the following ideas must be considered immediately:
· To grasp the spirit of the UCC, people should be encouraged to have a progressive and open mind. Education, awareness, and sensitization programmed must be implemented to achieve this.
· The Uniform Civil Code should be written with the greatest interests of all religions in mind.
· A committee of distinguished jurists should be formed to ensure consistency, and care should be taken not to offend anyone community.
· Because the subject is so delicate, it is always preferable if the initiative originates from the religious groups involved.
The discussion for a standard civil code in India extends back to the colonial era. It is founded on the concept that in modern civilization, there is no relationship between religion and law. Article 44 of the Indian constitution states that the state must endeavor to provide its inhabitants with a uniform civil code. Shah Banu, 73, was divorced by her husband using triple talaq (saying "I divorce thee" three times) and was refused support. The Supreme Court found in her favor in 1985 under the All-India Criminal Code's "maintenance of spouses, children, and parents" clause.
A single civil code would help India integrate more than it has since independence. It will aid in unifying all Indians, regardless of caste, religion, or ethnicity. A committee of distinguished jurists should be formed to ensure consistency, and care should be taken not to offend anyone community.