The Modi government, by taking a major decision which is likely to trigger heated political debate, has set in motion the BJP’s promise of unifying the country’s personal laws. This is for the first time a government has asked the commission which has a crucial advisory role in legal reform, to look into the politically controversial issue of a UNIFORM CIVIL CODE (UCC).
The letter asks the law commission to “examine the matter in relation to uniform civil code and submit a report.” The ministry had also sent documents relating to existing case laws and discussions on case laws relating to the uniform civil code. It aims at replacing personal laws of various communities, the priority being women.
UCC is a proposal which governs laws for every citizen without religion being a factor. The Article 44 of the directive principles in India implements the uniform civil code. For example, there are different principles and personal laws for Hindu and Muslims. Personal laws include property, marriage and divorce, inheritance and succession.
India should implement UCC for the following reasons:
- To become a secular country made by enacting personal laws outside the purview of religion.
- Bringing Civil Code will reduce the burden on the legal system. It would also help in simplifying a lot of technicalities which are present in different personal laws.
- It promotes unity and also help in the progress of India as a nation.
- UCC is also a major step towards gender justice. It will help the situation of Muslim women.
Every coin has two sides and yes there are some criticisms of the UCC . There’s a practical difficulty in adopting a uniform code of marriage since most people do not take the recourse to Special Marriage Act,1954 and prefer religiously formalised marriages . The proponents of the code haven’t given serious thought to what it would look like and how different religious customs associated with the solemnization of marriages would be accommodated. It would not significantly improve the democratic ideal of India.
This time, the Congress adopted a cautious stance while reacting to Modi government’s pitch for the UCC. As far as national integration is concerned, this (UCC) is one of the aspects that we have to take care of. This will entail time as so many personal laws across the country, many customs, rituals, and emotions are attached to it. It should enable the application of modern laws (such as abolishing polygamy) to all sections and also create a common framework for progressive laws that all sections of the Indian society can enjoy.