Uniform Civil Code
Why in news:
- Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong push for the UCC.
- If it comes into force, separate personal laws governing marriages, divorce, and inheritance of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, and other communities will be subsumed.
What is Uniform Civil Code:
- Uniform Civil Code refers to the uniformity in the civil laws of the country irrespective of the religion.
- At present, personal laws of various religious groups are governed by their religious scriptures and texts.
For ex: Muslims personal laws are governed by the Shariah law.
- But Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most of the civil matters such as Indian Contract Act 1872, Civil Procedure Code, Transfer of Property Act 1882, Evidence Act, 1872
Constitutional mandate for Uniform Civil Code:
- Article 44 of the Indian constitution says that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
Status of Uniform civil code before Independence:
- The debate for a uniform civil code dates back to the colonial period in India.
- Prior to the British rule, under the East India Company (1757-1858), they tried to reform local social and religious customs by imposing Western ideologies on India.
- The Lex Loci Report of October 1840 emphasised the importance and necessity of uniformity in codification of Indian law, relating to crimes, evidences and contract.
- But it also recommended that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims should be kept outside such codification.
Do the states have constitutional legality to pass UCC in their respective states?
- Yes, states are well within their right to frame the respective law of UCC in their state governments.
- Because personal laws such as intestacy and succession, wills, joint family and partition, marriage and divorce, relate to Entry 5 of ListIII Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Benefits of passing Uniform Civil Code:
- Simplification of various laws: the passage of uniform civil code will bring simplicity and also negates the scope for confusion among various religious communities.
- Uniformity among different religious groups: Having a uniform civil code among different religious groups will create a level of uniformity and level playing field.
- Protection to vulnerable sections of the society: As envisioned by the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar the passage of UCC will protect the most vulnerable sections of the society like women, children etc.
- Following the principle of secularism in letter and spirit: If UCC is passed then the various religious scriptures will cease to exist and the true sense of secularism can be claimed.
Issues in the passage of UCC :
- Article 25 to 28 :
- These are fundamental rights which deal with the idea of religious freedom.
- In the Indian Constitution at many places the Fundamental Rights are given higher place compared to the Directive principles of state policy.
- Because fundamental rights are justiciable while DPSPs are not.
- UCC which fall under Art 44 comes under DPSPs.
Syllabus: Prelims + Mains; GS II – Polity and Governance