Uniform Civil Code
Author : Devanshi Bajpai of The ICFAI University, Dehradun
The goal of the “Uniform Civil Code” is to replace individual laws (laws based on religious texts and customs). These laws are known as public law and include laws related to subjects such as marriage, divorce, succession, adoption and protection.
Goa is the only state in India where the Uniform Civil Code and Special Marriage Act 1954 is in force which allows any citizen to marry outside the purview of a particular religious law.
1. Article 44 of the Constitution discusses the Uniform Civil Code. This article related to the Directive Principles of State Policy states that ‘the State shall endeavor to obtain a uniform civil code for citizens in all the territories of India’.
2. The Uniform Civil Code has a common law for every citizen of the country, irrespective of their religion or caste.
3. In the Uniform Civil Code, the same law applies to all religions in marriage, divorce and property-sharing etc.
4. The situation in the country now has different rules for all religions. 5-The rules of property, marriage and divorce are different for Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
6-At this time people of many religions in the country follow their personal laws in marriage, property and adoption etc.
7-The Muslim, Christian and Parsi communities have their own personal laws, while the Hindu civil law includes Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
In 1840, the Uniform Law for Crimes, Evidence and Contracts was created by the British Government on the basis of the “Lex Lucy” report, but they deliberately dropped some personal laws of Hindus and Muslims.
On the other hand, the British Indian judiciary had provided the facility to Hindus and Muslims to apply by British judges under English law.
Apart from this, in those days, various social reformers were raising voice to make laws to end discrimination against women under the practice of sati and other religious customs.
“Mohammad Ahmed Khan vs Shahbano Begum Case”, which is mainly known as “Shahbano Case”.
Shahbano was a 62-year-old Muslim woman and mother of five children whom her husband divorced in 1978 after 40 years of marriage. With no means of livelihood for herself and her children, Shahbano reached the court to take alimony from her husband.
The case reached the Supreme Court in 1985. The court gave a decision under Section 125 of the Criminal Penal Code which applies to everyone irrespective of religion, caste or sect.
The court directed that Shahbano should be given a livelihood like a living. The then Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud said that Uniform Civil Code will remove inequality prevalent in Indian law, which will help in establishing national unity.
Therefore, the Supreme Court had directed the Parliament to enact laws related to the Uniform Civil Code.
On the other hand, the then Rajiv Gandhi government was not satisfied with this decision of the court, instead of supporting this decision, the government rejected the decision of the Supreme Court in Shahbano case and implemented the Muslim Women (Protection of Divorce Rights) Act, 1986 and The Muslim Personal Law Board was empowered to take decisions in the divorce case.
According to the stated purpose of this law, when a Muslim divorced woman cannot live after the time of Iddat, the court can order relatives who inherit her property according to Muslim law.
But if such relatives are not there or they are not in a condition to provide, then the court will order the State Waqf Board to provide the money. In this way, the responsibility of the husband’s support was limited to the time of Iddat.
Sarla Mudgal Case:
This is the second instance in which the Supreme Court again directed the government under Article 44.
In the case of Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, the question was whether a Hindu husband who had married under Hindu law but could accept Islam for a second marriage.
The Supreme Court has said that confessing Islam for second marriage is an abuse of private laws.
Apart from this, he said that Hindu marriages can be dissolved only under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, i.e., marriages which are remarried after confessing to Islam cannot be dissolved under the Hindu Marriage Law and it can be dissolved under the Indian Penal Code. 494  will be considered an offense.
John Vallamettam vs Union of India case
The Kerala priest, John Vallamettam, filed a writ petition in the year 1997 stating that section 118 of the Indian Succession Act is discriminatory against Christians and unfair restrictions on the donation of property to Christians for their religious or charitable purpose.
Applies Hearing this petition, a bench of Chief Justice of India VV Khare, Justice SB Sinha and Justice AR Laxman declared Section 118 unconstitutional. Apart from this, Justice Khare stated that “Article 44 states that the state will endeavor to provide uniform civil code to all citizens in the entire territory of India.
But the sad thing is that Article 44 mentioned in the Constitution has not been implemented properly. But a uniform civil code will help in establishing national unity by eliminating contradictions based on ideologies.
Future of Uniform civil code in India
The decision to implement the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act appears to be an effort in the direction of a uniform civil code as the Act allows individuals from the Muslim community to adopt children while Muslims under their individual laws The child is not allowed to adopt.
The Supreme Court of India has again asked the Central Government a question to implement a uniform civil code to remove gender inequality and to end wrong practices under personal laws.
Under the Civil Code, a set of laws will be created which will protect the individual rights of all citizens irrespective of religion, which is probably the demand of the present time.
In fact, it is the cornerstone of true secularism. Such progressive reforms will not only help in ending discrimination against women on religious grounds, but will also help in strengthening the secular structure of the country and promoting unity.
In fact our social system is full of injustice, discrimination and corruption and their conflict with our fundamental rights goes on, so there is a need to improve it.
As we know that there is a penal code in our country which applies equally to all people irrespective of religion, caste, tribe and domicile in the country. But there is no uniform law regarding divorce and succession in our country and these subjects are governed by personal laws.
Article 25 gives us freedom to conscience and freedom to believe, conduct and propagate religion unhindered.
Therefore, the Uniform Civil Code cannot be forced on people because it would clearly violate Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.
Hence the Uniform Civil Code and private laws should be implemented simultaneously.
In fact, the Uniform Civil Code incorporates modern and progressive aspects of existing personal laws which cannot be easily ignored.
I think the Uniform Civil Code would be an ideal way to protect the rights of citizens in an ideal state.
In the midst of changing circumstances, the time has come to protect the fundamental and constitutional rights of all citizens irrespective of religion, as the Uniform Civil Code should be enforced, as secularism and national integrity can also be strengthened by the Uniform Civil Code.