Question – The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is neither necessary nor desirable, because a unified nation does not mean uniformity. Discuss the merits and demerits of the Civil Code. – 31 August 2021
- Under Part-4 (Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Indian Constitution, according to Article-44, there will be a uniform civil code for all citizens of India. It practically means that there should be a common secular law for the citizens of all religions of India. The founders of the Constitution transferred the responsibility of implementing it to the subsequent governments through the Directive Principles of State Policy.
- Most of the personal laws in India are based on religion. The personal laws of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religions are governed by the Hindu law, while the Muslim and Christian religions have their own individual laws. The law of Muslims is based on the ‘Shariat’, while the personal laws of other religious communities are based on the law made by the Indian Parliament. Till now Goa is the only state where Uniform Civil Code is in force.
The merits of a Uniform Civil Code as a means of eliminating discrimination between religions:
- It would separate religion from personal laws. At the same time it will ensure equality in terms of justice for both men and women, irrespective of religion they belong to.
- To ensure uniformity of law for all Indians in relation to marriage, succession, divorce etc.
- This will help improve the status of women, as Indian society is largely patriarchal, with ancient religious rules governing family life and subjugating women.
- Informal bodies like caste panchayats give decisions based on traditional laws. A Uniform Code will ensure compliance with statutory laws rather than traditional laws.
- This can be helpful in strengthening Indian integrity, as uniformity in personal laws creates a conducive environment for bringing different communities closer.
Disadvantages of Uniform Civil Code:
- The issue of Uniform Civil Code has shifted from a social or individual rights issue to a political one. So while on one hand some political parties are doing political appeasement through this issue, on the other hand many political parties are trying to religious polarization through this issue.
- Changes in the affairs of Hinduism or any other religion have not been made without the majority support of that religion, so it is necessary to try for political and judicial processes as well as mental changes at the level of religious groups.
- The feature of composite culture should also be given priority because dissatisfaction with any religion in the society can lead to a situation of unrest.
For the progress and harmony of the society, it is very necessary to have a sense of equality among all the parties existing in that society. Therefore it is expected that the structure of the society should change in view of the changing circumstances. There are different rules regarding marriage, adoption of children, property or inheritance etc. Therefore, whatever is banned in one religion, the same thing is openly allowed in other sects.
Since independence, there has been talk of making such a law for all religions which is equally applicable to all. However, a consensus has not yet been reached. The Hindu Code Bill in the past and now the law on instant triple-talaq are being considered as a big step in this direction.