Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code

Why in news:

  • A new organisation in Nagaland has threatened to burn down the official quarters of all the 60 legislators if the State Assembly succumbs to the Centre’s pressure and passes a Bill in support of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
  • The opposition to the UCC has been the strongest in Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland where Christians account for 74.59%, 86.97%, and 87.93% respectively according to the 2011 Census.
  • The northeast is one of the most culturally diverse regions in the world and is home to more than 220 ethnic communities.
  • Many fear that the UCC would affect their customary laws protected by the Constitution.

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, 

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