Allahabad High Court Decision on Uniform Civil Code:
Why in the news?
Recently, the Allahabad High Court has called upon the Central government to initiate the process for implementation of Uniform Civil Code.
- The court has announced that the Uniform Civil Code “is a necessity and mandatorily required today.
- It would promote gender parity in Indian society.
- UCC would accommodate the aspirations of the young population who imbibe liberal ideology.
- The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities.
- Secularism is the objective enshrined in the Preamble, a secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
- Its implementation would thus support national integration.
What is UCC?
- A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide 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 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a UCC for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
- Article 44 is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.
- In 1941, BN Rau Committee recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women in keeping with the modern trends of society.
- Tracts of the Constituent Assembly debates reveal that there was no consensus in the Constituent Assembly about what a potential uniform civil code would entail.
Why does India need Uniform Civil Code?
- For Gender Parity: The rights of women are generally restricted under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. Triple talaq, priority given to men in terms of succession and inheritance are some examples.
- Many practices governed by religious tradition are contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian constitution.
- National Integration: UCC would make the dream of “One Nation, One Law” come true. India believes in one nation and hence no community shall claim separate religious laws. In this way, it’ll promote national integration.
- Violation of religious freedom: UCC is considered by religious minorities as an encroachment on their rights to religious freedom. They fear that their traditional religious practices will be replaced by the rules and diktats of majority religious communities.
- Nature of India: A secular republic like India needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices
- Freedom of Choice: A religion neutral personal law would encourage protection of couples in case of inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
- Even Acts like the Special Marriage Act, 1954 permits any citizen to have a civil marriage outside the realm of any specific religious personal law.
What are the hurdles with UCC?
- The UCC is often perceived by the minorities as an encroachment on religious freedom.
- Article 25 of Indian constitution, that seeks to preserve the freedom to practise and propagate any religion ge
- There are practical difficulties due to religious and cultural diversity in India.
- Affects Majority as well: For example, even Hindus themselves have separate Hindu laws for themselves. Thus, it is not merely a question for minorities but it also affects the majority.
Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?
- Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters — Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act, etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and, therefore, in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws. Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.
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