PMF IAS Current Affairs
PMF IAS Current Affairs

Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Arguments for and Against UCC, Law Commission on UCC

Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

  • Context (TH): UCC panel to hear views of Law Ministry, Commission.
  • The UCC is the idea of having a common set of personal laws on marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and succession that would apply to all citizens irrespective of religious affiliations.
  • Underlining principle of UCC is that the laws should be gender-neutral, religion-neutral, and uniform grounds procedure for all citizens in civil matters such as marriage, divorce, etc.

Constitutional provisions

  • Article 44 in part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of IC says that the state “shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
  • Part IV of IC deals with the Directive Principles of State Policy, which are not enforceable or justiciable in a court of law but are fundamental to the country’s governance.

Arguments against UCC

  • Certain civil laws in all communities are inseparably connected with religious beliefs and practices.
  • The UCC would come in the way of Article 25-28 of IC, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion subject to public order, morality, and health.
  • All Hindus are not governed by a homogenous personal law even after the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill, and so are Muslims and Christians under their personal laws.

UCC and Tribal rights

  • Provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, do not apply to any Scheduled Tribe unless the Central Government explicitly directs the same.
  • Many tribal groups fear that the UCC may dilute tribal customary laws and rights.

Plurality is a common feature across domains

  • India does have uniformity in most criminal and civil matters. However, states have made over 100 amendments to the CrPC and IPC and several amendments to civil laws.
  • If plurality exists in already codified civil and criminal laws, how can the concept of ‘one nation, one lawbe applied to diverse personal laws of various communities?

Arguments for UCC

  • UCC would promote gender equality.
  • If personal laws of inheritance, succession and so on are seen as a part of religion, then many discriminatory practices of the Hindu personal law against women could not be eliminated.
  • UCC would not be against the freedom of religion as IC allowed the government to make laws covering secular activities related to religious practices if they were intended for social reform.

Supreme Court called for implementing the UCC

  • In many cases, while deciding whether to give prevalence to the CrPc or the Muslim personal law, the SC called for implementing the UCC.
  • SC in 2019 hailed Goa as a “shining example” of an Indian State with a functioning UCC.

Central government’s view

  • The Central government told SC that IC obligated the State to have a UCC and said that people of different religions following different property/matrimonial laws was an “affront to the nation’s unity.

Constituent Assembly’s view

  • The framers of IC did not intend total uniformity or one law for the whole country, which is why personal laws were placed in entry 5 of the Concurrent List, with the power to legislate given to Parliament and State Assemblies.
  • Since personal laws are in the Concurrent List, they may differ from State to State.

Report of 21st Law Commission on UCC

  • In 2018, the Law Commission issued a consultation paper instead of a final report on the UCC.
  • The paper titled Reforms of Family Law argued for reforming family laws across religions through amendments and codifying personal laws to limit “ambiguity in interpretation” and application.
  • Following are some of the suggestions:
    1. UCC is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.
    2. A unified nation did not necessarily need “uniformity”. Difference did not always imply discrimination in a robust democracy.
    3. Secularism could not contradict the plurality prevalent in the country. “Secularism” had meaning only if it assured the expression of any form of difference.
    4. Discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy. The discriminatory practices, prejudices and stereotypes within a particular religion and its personal laws should be studied and amended.
    5. Certain measures in marriage and divorce should be uniformly accepted in the personal laws of all religions. Some of these amendments include fixing the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18, making adultery a ground for divorce for both men and women, etc.
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