20 Oct One nation, one law, demand for Uniform civil code
Uniform Civil Code
This article is based on the “Uniform Civil Code”. It talks about Indian Polity and Governance the significance of One nation one law, demand for Uniform Civil Code.
Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance
Mains: GS II: Indian Constitution—significant provisions, etc.
GS II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Center has suggested the supreme court put up a Uniform Civil Code for its citizens and that people of different religions and denominations following different property and matrimonial laws is an “affront to nations unity ”before the 22nd law commission
What is article 44 of the Indian constitution?
- Article 44 is a DPSP which means Directive principles of states policies
- This article of the Indian constitution defines the Uniform Civil Code.
- This article states that ‘The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.’
About the Uniform Civil Code
- A collective set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration religion.
What is the Directive Principle of States (DPSP)?
- DPSP are the kind of instructions/guidelines framed for the central as well as state governments. However, these are fundamental in the governance of the country, but they are non-justifiable.
Difference between Fundamental Rights and DPSP in India
- Negative since they prohibit the state from doing certain things
- Justiciable in nature
- Aim: establishing political democracy
- Legal sanctions
- Do not require legislation for their implementation
- Courts are bound to declare a law invalid if they violate FRS
- Positive since they compel states to take actions
- Non-justiciable in nature
- Aim: economic and social democracy
- Moral and political sanctions
- Requires legislation for their implementation
- Courts cannot declare a law invalid if they violate FRds
- The idea of the Uniform Civil Code in India during the Colonial period, when in 1853 the British Government gave its report, emphasizing the need for homogeneity in the codification of Indian laws relating to crimes, shreds of evidence and contracts, particularly the personal laws of Muslims and Hindu be kept outside of such codification.
- But, the 1st war of Indian Independence which is famously known as the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 gave a strong signal to the British to not change the social structure of India and also gave a lesson to respect the personal codes governing aspects of marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, and succession.
- The communal disharmony and hostility to the removal of personal laws, after the Indian independence, against the backdrop of Partition, resulted in accommodating the UCC as a DPSP
- However, the makers of the Constitution tried to put a Hindu Code Bill in the Parliament that included reforms like women’s equal rights of inheritance, regrettably, they didn’t successful
- But on 5th September 2005, when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 received assent from the President of India that the discriminatory provisions considering property rights in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 were removed.
Need for Uniform civil code
- India being a secular country, needs a general law for all the citizens instead of laws based on different religious practices.
- Gender Justice: under religious law, women’s rights in India are limited be it Muslim or Hindu. Many practices regulated by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights –guaranteed in the constitution of India
- Cases like Saira Bano augured for the Uniform Civil Code.
Reform of Family Law report by 21st Law Commission of India on Article 44-
- The report states that the diversity of Indian culture can and should be celebrated, and specific groups or weaker sections of the society must not be ‘in the process. Resolution of this conflict does not mean the abolition of difference, it said.
- The report states that
- The cultural diversity of India can and should be celebrated. However, particular groups, communities, or weaker sections of society should not be ‘dis-privileged’ in this process.
- Hence, the commission concluded, considering the discriminatory laws rather than giving Uniform Civil Code, which is not necessary nor Desirable at this point.
- The way forward may not be a Uniform Civil Code but the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and could be tested on the anvil of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
- The commission has already suggested certain amendments in personal laws including setting the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18 years so that they may marry as equals, making adultery a ground of divorce for men and women, and simplifying divorce procedures.
- Recommendations were also made to abolish polygamy by law.
Does India don’t have any Uniform Civil Code?
- In most civil matters, Indian Law does not follow a uniform code, such as
- Indian Contract Act,
- Civil Procedure Code,
- Sale of Goods Act,
- Transfer of Property Act,
- Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc.
- States, as well, have made put in many efforts and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
Why UUC is not needed at this point?
- The secularism of the nation cannot contradict the plurality widespread in the country.
- The cultural diversity of India cannot be compromised to the extent that our want for uniformity itself can turn out to be a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.
- Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which gives the right of freedom to practice and propagate any religion gets into conflict with the concepts of equality enshrined under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
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