Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code UCC

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, has always been a strong proponent of having a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India. As elections approach, the efforts by the government to implement UCC will intensify.

In the diverse cultural mosaic of India, the discourse around a Uniform Civil Code has stirred vigorous debates and discussions over the years. The idea of a UCC is anchored in Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution. It states, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.”

What is a Uniform Civil Code?

The UCC aims to replace the personal laws, based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country, with a common set governing every citizen. These laws pertain to civil matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance.

Why a Uniform Civil Code?

The principal argument favoring a UCC is promoting national integration and gender justice. A UCC could ensure legal uniformity, reducing the potential for inter-community conflicts arising from various personal laws. It could also uphold the constitutional values of justice, equality, and fraternity ensuring that every citizen, irrespective of their religion, is equal in the eyes of the law.

Gender justice is another crucial aspect of this discourse. Personal laws across religions have often been criticized for being patriarchal and unfair to women. A well-drafted UCC can help rectify these gender inequalities, ensuring women’s rights are protected uniformly across all religions.
Challenges to the Uniform Civil Code Implementing a UCC in a culturally diverse country like India is complex. The primary challenge lies in addressing the apprehensions of various religious communities. Concerns have been raised that a UCC might undermine the cultural identities of certain communities and infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed right to religious freedom.

Moreover, reaching a consensus on the provisions of the UCC is a formidable challenge, given the diversity of customs and practices in different religions.

The Way Forward In implementing a UCC, dialogue, consensus-building, and incremental change are essential. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work in a diverse country like India. Thus, the UCC should strive to accommodate the diverse customs of different communities while upholding the constitutional principles of justice, equality, and dignity for all.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, has consistently included the implementation of a UCC in its election manifestos. It has been a part of their larger political agenda.

The Modi government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, which made instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a criminal offense. Many see this law as a step towards ensuring gender justice and potentially a move towards a Uniform Civil Code.

In 2018, under the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Law Commission of India released a consultation paper discussing family law reforms. While it did not directly advocate for a UCC, it called for amendments and codification of all personal laws to end discrimination. The goal of the UCC should be to address discrimination rather than homogenize all personal laws.

Unfounded Concerns About UCC

Some critics argue that a UCC would homogenize India’s diverse cultural and religious practices. However, it’s essential to note that the UCC would not touch upon religious beliefs or rituals. It pertains only to civil matters like marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, etc. Thus, while fostering legal uniformity, it would still allow for cultural diversity.

Some fear that a UCC might result in the erosion of minority rights and lead to majoritarian rule. However, the objective of a UCC is not to impose the majority’s viewpoint. It is to ensure that we protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, irrespective of their religion, equally.

Critics argue that a UCC could infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed right to religious freedom. However, a UCC aims to regulate personal laws – civil matters that often inherently discriminate between genders, different sects within the same religion, and between religions. It does not seek to regulate or control religious beliefs or practices.

Some say that due to India’s immense diversity, a UCC is infeasible. However, the objective of a UCC is not to eliminate this diversity but to provide equal rights to all citizens, irrespective of their religion, thereby strengthening the nation’s secular fabric.

Successful implementation of a UCC would require extensive consultation with religious and community leaders, legal experts, and civil society to ensure that the code is inclusive and respects the cultural diversity of India.

If drafted and implemented with sensitivity and fairness, a Uniform Civil Code can usher in an era of legal uniformity and gender justice. It can strengthen the fabric of constitutional secularism and uphold the Indian ethos of “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava,” or equal respect for all religions. However, the road to a UCC brings challenges that require thoughtful deliberation and inclusive dialogue to overcome. The journey towards a UCC is, in essence, a journey toward a more equitable India.