Law

Uniform Civil Code

Ridam Arsh talks about the need for Uniform Civil Code in India. 

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into [Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic] and to secure to all its citizens.[1]

 

Figure 1.1[2]
Religion Percentage Estimated
All Religion 100.00 % 121 Crores
Hindu 79.80 % 96.62 Crores
Muslim 14.23 % 17.22 Crores
Christian 2.30 % 2.78 Crores
Sikh 1.72 % 2.08 Crores
Buddhist 0.70 % 84.43 Lakhs
Jain 0.37 % 44.52 Lakhs

The word “Secular” has been added in the Constitution of India after the 42nd Amendment. By “Secular”, it is implied that respecting the diversity of different Religions being practiced, followed and professed[3]by a large population of the country (Figure 1.1), the State doesn’t recognize any of the Religion to be specifically the Religion of the State.

Uniform Civil Code has been envisaged under Article 44[4] of the Indian Constitution where “The sole purpose to enact Uniform Civil Code is that its main target is to unify all the personal laws of various religions and all the citizen shall be then governed by such set of laws. There shall be uniformity in terms of laws regulating marriage, maintenance, adoption, inheritance”.

Major Drawbacks of the existing personal laws is the derogatory condition of women where they have been denied justice and victimized continuously since ages and the extremely disappointing and unfair autocratic decisions made by the Caste Panchayats. Muslims can practice polygamy but a Hindu cannot. On the other hand, a Hindu can form HUF, manage their assets and save Taxes, whereas a Muslim or a Christian cannot. A Christian cannot file for divorce before 2 years of completion of marriage various it is even 1 year close for some of the various other religions also, a Christian woman cannot claim a share in her deceased’s property. Adoption to be made under Hindu adoption and maintenance have endless loopholes such as only a Hindu child can be adopted, a child cannot be adopted by a person other than Hindu. All these intricacies require a public attention.

The strongest reason why this Uniform Code for civil procedures is never put forward and promoted by the politicians because of their ever-growing fears of losing their significant vote banks which forms the majority of the population in many states.

In fact, it becomes successful in improving the position of Hindu women. Even when the Hindu Uniform Code was being discussed, it was opposed by the masses but was successful to gain consensus and was implemented.

The existing personal religious laws are discriminatory in terms of gender. The Indian Constitution guarantees Equality before law as per Article 14 and Article 15[5].

There have been instances in past where a Hindu Woman is deserted by her husband and the husband marries another woman after converting to Islam[6].

Another case where a wife, who had no means to support her life was denied maintenance to be provided by her husband beyond the Iddat Period. The case had reached Supreme Court after 7 years had elapsed[7]. There was subsequent invocation of Section 125 of CrPC which provides for non-discriminatory provision for maintenance under Family law.

Reasonable and fair provision for the future of the wife shall be made which shall also include maintenance and does not confine itself only to the iddat period as was upheld by the Supreme Court. It also upheld the validity of Muslim Women Act under the Constitution.[8]

As per the Human Development report, India’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranks at 130th position whereas The World Happiness Report 2016 ranks India at 118th position. Gender equality and justice can drastically improve and lift up the position of India by the way of Social Reforms and by implementation of Uniform Civil Code.

The problem lies where the Article 44 is a part of the Directive Principle of State policy and they are not justiciable or mandatory and are mere guidelines. BJP had Uniform Civil Code as one of their agenda for 2014 elections and other parties have been demanding it for long. Also Goa is portrayed as an example which has “Goa Civil Code” for the same purpose.

Uniform Civil Code, though a great step forward and in the right direction involves a difficult and a challenging task as no one has an idea as to what it will actually look like, provisions shall not favour any specific religion. It is the major concern with regard to its implementation as to which religion would be given preference with respect to a particular issues, one of them such as polygamy and what would be the criteria to choose whose provisions are morally and legally right to enact shall be the questions to be dealt with while dealing with the idea of Uniform Civil Code.

REFERENCES

[1]Preamble, Constitution of India

[2]All India Religion Census Data 2011, http://www.census2011.co.in/religion.php

[3]Article 25, 26, 29 of Indian Constitution

[4]Article 44.Uniform civil code for the citizens– The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

[5]Article 14. Equality before law The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

Article 15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to

(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or

(b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public

(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children

(4) Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes

 

[6]SarlaMudgal v. UOI, 1995 AIR 1531, 1995 SCC (3) 635

[7]Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (1985 SCR (3) 844)

[8]DanialLatifi & Anr v. Union Of India on 28 September, 2001