Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code in India – Need of the Hour

Before we look deeper into the horizons of the uniformity of civil code in India, we must first do a shallow analysis of what actually consists of the same. Uniform Civil Code is India is basically an intense proposal to replace the personal laws (matrimonial laws), based upon the customs and religion of every particular individual in our country respective of their religion and community in our country. It covers all the matters related to divorce,marriage, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance etc.

A striking intervention of the Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy of India , plays a greater role in the formulated explanation of the Uniform Civil Code in India. Hence, the Article 44 denotes that The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Though we denote by saying that India is a secularist country , where every individual citizen has got that intermediary power to follow his/her religion in a confined manner, but this civil code goes into contradiction of that very Secularist policy of our country.

If we analyze the origin of the issue of the Uniform Civil Code, it transports us back to the British period where , there was an intense debate regarding the codification of laws in our country, but the concept of personal laws of Hindus and Muslims were kept aside at that time. Therefore , looking upon the sensitivity and the understanding of the matter on the grounds of religion the British kept it in a separate sphere and matters of personal laws were regularized by the panchayats in the colonial era. With the proclamation of the Queen in 1859 the citizens were allowed to exercise power over the disputes of religious matters by themselves without any interference from the state. If we talk about the application of the laws in the colonial era the Hindu law was strictly followed as according to its rules and norms ,same was the case with Muslim law.

Certain legislative reforms were also a highlight of that time,we all know very well that in a country like India the status of women have always been questionable as we all know we live in a Patriarchal system where be in property or the lineage is always passed from the father to his son. Daughters are not given that very significant status as compared to the sons. The Hindu law discriminated against women in the features of inheritance, remarriage and divorce. The girl child had no right in the share according to the law in the matters of property acquired by his father,she either wasn’t allowed to get remarried in case she tend to become a widow in an early age also there were no stringent laws regarding the divorce in favour of a women. But reformers like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in the British period fought for the rights in all respects for women to retain their dignity and position to be as equal as men in the society. The passing of Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act of 1937 also brought in a dramatic revolution as this was the time when the state found it necessary to bring in the Uniform civil code in India. The Special Marriage Act, which gave the Indian citizens an option of a civil marriage, was enacted first in 1872. It had a limited application because it required those involved to renounce their religion and was applicable only to Hindus. The later Special Marriage (Amendment) Act, 1923 permitted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains to marry either under their personal law or under the act without renouncing their religion as well as retaining their succession rights.

One of the most highlighted case which comes into consideration when we talk about the Uniform civil code in India is the SHAH BANO (1985) case. Bano was a 73-year-old woman who sought maintenance from her husband, Muhammad Ahmad Khan. He had divorced her after 40 years of marriage by triple Talaaq (saying “I divorce thee” three times) and denied her regular maintenance; this sort of unilateral divorce was permitted under the Muslim Personal Law. She was initially granted maintenance by the verdict of a local court in 1980. Khan, a lawyer himself, challenged this decision, taking it to the Supreme court, saying that he had fulfilled all his obligations under Islamic law. The Supreme court ruled in her favor in 1985 under the “maintenance of wives, children and parents” provision (Section 125) of the All India Criminal Code, which applied to all citizens irrespective of religion. It further recommended that a uniform civil code be set up. Besides her case, two other Muslim women had previously received maintenance under the Criminal code in 1979 and 1980.

Another very important and recent issue highlighted in the shadow of the civil code in India is where the former judge of the Supreme Court Mr. Vikramjit Sen put forward his proposition regarding the scraping of Section 377 which puts a ban upon gay sex and is termed as a crime under IPC. According to him being the mature citizens of this country everyone has got a right upon the selection of their sexual preferences in private , state is not the prime policy to interfere in such a matter. Well secularism doesn’t constitute in saying that it refers to the recognition of all religions , instead it refers to no recognition to any religion , religion is a private aspect of a person’s life therefore state is no one to decide that who needs to follow which religion. This causes an immense need for the Uniform Civil Code in India.

Therefore yes, it is true we need a uniform civil code throughout our country, as it called for the need of the hour though it contradicts the Secularist policy but still for the smooth functioning of the country and to maintain a balance in all spheres of life including gender justice as one of its primary issues the Uniform Civil Code is a must passed policy by our state authorities.

Alisha Adhana
VIPS, New Delhi

11 thoughts on “Uniform Civil Code in India – Need of the Hour

  1. You covered all the things. I was getting motivated to read more by myself but in between tu thoda deep me chali gyi about women discrimination. Overall it was good . Even a person from non – law background will love to read it . Keep it up

  2. Good  one Alisha…
    You kept it simple n easy to understand….A good n breif description of various aspects of applying uniform civil code in india..keep it up.

  3. Just got around reading. Genius! We can discuss a few more aspects of Hinduism when I get back to India. You make us proud !
    Your mama.

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