Uniform Civil Code: The Necessity
The term “Uniform Civil Code” refers to a single law that applies to all the citizens of the country pertaining to personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. irrespective of the religion. The whole concept of the Uniform Civil Code comes from the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution. Article 44 of the Indian Constitution states that “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.
VITAL MATTERS OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE:
It is significant to note that the term “Civil code” which is mentioned in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution must cover the entire laws governing the laws relating to property and personal matters like marriage, divorce etc. Certain matters related to Uniform civil code are Marriage and Divorce, Succession or Inheritance, Guardianship and Maintenance, Adoption, Partition, Gifts and wills etc.
PROS OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE:
The pros of Uniform Civil Code are mentioned below:
1. To provide equal status to all the citizens of the country: In this era a secular democratic and republic country must have a common civil code for its citizens regardless of their class, caste, gender etc.
2. To accommodate the aspirations of a young population: A contemporary India is a new society with 55% of its population is below 25 years of age. The social attitudes and aspirations of this young population are shaped by universal and global principles of equality, and modernity. Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will help to utilize their full potential towards nation-building.
3. To promote gender parity: It is commonly observed that personal laws of almost all religions are discriminatory towards women. Men are commonly granted better preferential status in matters pertaining to succession and inheritance of property. Uniform civil code will bring both men and women at par and it will abolish gender discrimination.
4. Support and Promote National Integration: After the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), every citizen will be treated equally which will boost national integrity. Then the existing differences such as gender, caste, creed, etc. will not be a matter. It will help in the establishment of a “one nation” principle.
5. Social Reform: India is a secular country and it has so many personal laws which eventually discriminate Indian citizen based on gender, religion, culture, etc. and every personal law is different from other personal law. So, after the implementation of this Uniform Civil Code (UCC), India will undergo another social reform in this century.
6. Constitutional mandate: It has stated in ‘Article 44’ of the Indian constitution as ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ (DPSP). This DPSP cannot be enforced by the court. The legislature can enforce it by framing a law relating to the Uniform Civil Code.
THE NECESSITY FOR UNIFORM CIVIL CODE IN INDIA:
Some major reasons for having a Uniform Civil Code in India are mentioned below:
1. Real secularism: In India, at present, we are having Selective secularism which means that in some areas we are secular and in some areas, we are not secular. Equal treatment of citizens in the country is the Real Secularism which can be achieved through the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code.
2. Uniform Civil Code will help in reducing Vote Bank Politics: A uniform civil code will also help in reducing vote bank politics that most political parties indulge in during every election. If all religions are covered under the equivalent laws, the politicians will have less to offer to certain minorities in exchange for their votes. This Uniform Civil Code promotes True Democracy in the country.
3. Uniform Civil Code will Integrate India: A uniform civil code will aid in integrating India more than it has ever been since independence. It will help in bringing every Indian, regardless of his caste, religion, or tribe, under one national civil code of conduct.
4. Every Modern Nation must have Uniform Civil Code: A uniform civil code is the sign of modern progressive nation. It is a sign which indicates that the nation has moved away from caste and religious politics. While India’s economic growth has been the highest in the world our social growth has not happened at all. A Uniform Civil Code will help the society move forward and it will take India towards its goal of becoming a developed nation.
LANDMARK CASES REGARDING UNIFORM CIVIL CODE:
The first case which talks about the necessity for ‘Uniform Civil Code’ is Ms. Jordan Diengdeh vs S.S. Chopra In the present case the Supreme Court of India has decided based on ‘Article 44’ of the Indian constitution as the marriage is done by their religious customs and it referred to various acts related to marriages under Hindu law and in order to do justice for the women the Supreme Court suggested for the enforcement of ‘Uniform Civil Code’.
In the Shah Bano judgment, it was observed: "It is also a matter of regret that Article 44 of our Constitution has remained a dead letter. It provides that "The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India". There is no evidence of any official activity for framing a common civil code for the country. A belief seems to have gained ground that it is for the Muslim community to take a lead in the matter of reforms of their law. A common Civil Code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies.
It was held in Sarla Mudgal vs. Union of India and Ors. that, “Article 44 is based upon the concept that there is no necessary connection between religion and personal law in a civilized society. Article 25 guarantees freedom where as Article 44 seeks to divest religion from social relations and personal law. Marriage, succession and like matters of a secular character cannot be brought within the guarantee enshrined under Articles 25, 26 and 27. The personal law of Hindus such as relating to marriage, succession and like have all a sacramental origin, in the same manner as in the case of the Muslims or the christens . The Hindus along with Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains have forsaken their sentiments in the cause of national unity and integration, some other communities would not, though the constitution enjoins the establishment of a “Common Civil Code” for the whole of India.
The Government of India if therefore requested through the Prime Minister of the Country to have a fresh look at Article 44 of the Constitution of India and Endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. It was also reminded by kuldeep Singh j in this case that even 41 years thereafter; the rulers of the country are not in a mood to retrieve Article 44 from the cold storage where it is lying since 1949. The court further emphasized when more than 80% of the citizens have already been brought under the codified personal law there is no justification what so ever to keep in abeyance, any more, the introduction of “Uniform Civil Code” for all citizens in the territory of India.”
The subsequent case is John Vallamattom and Anr. v. Union of India This case is based on the facts of succession and governed under Section.118 of Indian Succession act. Finally the court decided that Section118 of the Indian Succession Act unconstitutional as the provision violating of Article 14 of the Constitution. The court mentioned in the judgement that “It is a matter of regret that Article 44 of the Constitution has not been given effect to. Parliament is still to step in for framing a common civil code in the country. A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing the contradictions based on ideologies”.
The above said landmark cases have stir the need for the enactment of ‘Uniform Civil Code’ for the benefit of citizens of our country.
ARE WE READY FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE?
India is a country with numerous customs, traditions and communities. Everyone thinks that his/her faith and customs are the best. No individual in this country wants to consider reforming or transforming their own system. Hence it is not feasible to come up with the uniform rules and regulations including many personal issues like marriage because most of the people in this country will not support the practice of transforming traditional cultures to a new one.
There are many practical difficulties in the implementation of Uniform Civil Code. The minorities in the country believe that their traditional values will be lost to a great extent due to this implementation of Uniform Civil Code and this new process is not appreciated by all. The implementation of Uniform Civil Code became a sensitive issue because The Constitution of India provides Freedom of Religion of their choice to the citizens. But the Uniform Civil Code will violate that Freedom to some extent. If the minorities feel insecure and vulnerable due to the implementation they will be attracted towards Extremist Ideologies which eventually damages the Solidarity of the Nation.
It is a fundamental characteristic that Indian Law stands by the “Concept of Equality before law and Equal Protection of the law”. The Uniform Civil Code is a fine element of this concept. All religions have to be given equal rights and preferences in the country. But it is also evident to ensure that the practices undertaken by every religion individually, does not violate the equality maintained by the Indian laws between the religions. Implementation of the Uniform Civil Code would only ensure that laws governing religion is going to be common for every Woman, Child and Man.
A strong political will is required for the proper implementation of Uniform Civil Code in India. An unbiased and fair Uniform Civil Code must be framed which will agree with the Constitution of India. The said Uniform Civil Code must be free from ambiguity and must uphold the constitutional spirit. The said Common Civil Code must cover the grey areas in personal laws.
 Ms. Jordan Diengdeh vs S.S. Chopra (1985 AIR 935) available at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/569459/#:~:text=Indian%20Divorce%2C%20Act%2C%201869%2D,irretrievable%20break%2Ddown%20of%20marriage.
 Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum and Ors (1985 AIR 945) available at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/823221/
 Smt. Sarla Mudgal, President, ... vs Union Of India & Ors (1995 AIR 1531) available at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/733037/
 John Vallamattom and another v. Union of India (Writ Petition (civil) 242 of 1997) available at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/168292393/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog has been authored by Bhagavatula Naga Sai Sriram who is a 2nd Year B.B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Sastra University, Tamil Nadu.
[PUBLICATION NO. TLG_BLOG_20_0604]