Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code has always been in the news for some or other reasons, and it makes for a possible question in the Civil Services exams. To enhance your UPSC exam preparation, we will discuss the Uniform Civil Code in detail in this article.

Why in the News?

In the context of Indian Polity, there has been a demand for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code from time and again. 

Probable Question

Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for its citizens a uniform civil code as enshrined in the Directive Principles of State Policy. 

Key Points

About Uniform Civil Code

• Article 44 of the Indian Constitution lays down that the State shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for the citizens throughout the territory of India. 

• It calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. Currently, different laws regulate these aspects for adherents of different religions and a UCC is meant to do away with these inconsistent personal laws. 

oThese laws include the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Indian Christian Marriages Act, Indian Divorce Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. It will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all. 

• The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith. 

• The Constitution’s framers used the term “uniform” in Article 44 and not “common”, because  “common” means “one and the same in all circumstances”, while “uniform” means “the same in similar conditions”. 

Origin of Uniform Civil Code

• The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law. 

• An increase in legislation dealing with personal issues in the far end of British rule forced the government to form the BN Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941.

  • The task of the Hindu Law Committee was to examine the question of the necessity of common Hindu laws.
  • The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women. 

• The 1937 Act was reviewed, and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus. 

Need for Uniform Civil Code

In Sync with Changing times: There has been a steep rise in inter-community, inter-caste and interfaith marriages and relationships, which has exploded especially in the last few decades thereby the implementation of UCC will be in conformity with the changing times. 

Boosting National Integration: Uniform Civil Code in India would help the cause of national integration by removing ideological contradictions due to religious affiliations. 

In line with the Constitutional Values: Our Preamble has envisaged a secular polity, which essentially needs a common law for all citizens irrespective of their religious beliefs. 

Also, watch a detailed video on Article 44 and Uniform Civil Code by M.Puri Sir, our DREAM TEAM faculty for Polity, IR, and Governance:

Inherent Challenges to UCC 

Communal Politics: The demand for a uniform civil code has been framed in the context of communal politics. 

o A large section of society sees it as majoritarianism under the garb of social reform. 

Constitutional Hurdle: Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which seeks to preserve the freedom to practise and propagate any religion gets into conflict with the concepts of equality enshrined under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. 

Also read: How to Prepare Indian Polity for UPSC Prelims?

Way Forward

The need for a Uniform Civil Code flows from the very concept of secularism, which mandates the complete separation of religion and State. It needs no reiteration that laws have to be equal for all citizens, irrespective of religion, caste or gender. The goal of a UCC should ideally be reached in a piecemeal manner, like the recent amendment on the age of marriage rather than adopting a hasty approach. 

Brief Overview

What are Personal Laws?

• Laws that apply to a certain group of people based on their religion, caste, faith, and belief made after due consideration of customs and religious texts. 

• The Personal laws of Hindus and Muslims find their source and authority in their religious ancient texts. 

• Under the Constitution, the power to legislate in respect of personal laws rests with both the Parliament and state Assemblies. 

• Preservation of legal diversity seems to be the reason for the inclusion of personal law in the Concurrent List (entry No.5). 

Difference Between Civil Laws and Criminal Laws

While the criminal laws in India are uniform and applicable equally to all, no matter what their religious beliefs are, the civil laws are influenced by faith. Swayed by religious texts, the personal laws which come into effect in civil cases have always been implemented according to constitutional norms. 

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