Implementing UCC brings advantages crucial for the nation’s progress, but UCC is subject to a debate and faces challenges.
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a comprehensive set of legal regulations aimed at governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption for all individuals in India, regardless of their religious affiliation. Enshrined in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, the UCC seeks to promote equality among citizens and transcend religious, ethnic, and caste divisions.
Implementing a UCC in India brings numerous advantages crucial for the nation’s progress. Firstly, it eliminates religious discrimination and ensures equal treatment for all religions, upholding the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Additionally, it promotes national integration by providing a uniform set of personal laws, reducing divisions and fostering social harmony. Streamlining the judicial process, the UCC simplifies complexities and inconsistencies arising from multiple personal laws, enabling efficient and timely justice delivery.
The implementation of a thoughtfully crafted and inclusive UCC can rectify gender inequalities perpetuated by religion-specific personal laws. Women’s rights in areas such as inheritance, marriage decisions, divorce, adoption, and more can be safeguarded, breaking away from traditional patriarchal norms and promoting gender equality. Discriminatory practices against women, such as instant divorce and contract marriage, can be addressed, ensuring fair and just procedures. Adoption laws can be standardized, granting equal rights to all children regardless of gender or religious affiliation. Furthermore, the UCC can establish gender-neutral principles in matters of guardianship and custody, prioritizing the well-being of the child. It can also reform succession laws to ensure equitable distribution of property, overcoming discriminatory practices that disadvantage certain individuals.
Despite the advantages, the UCC is subject to debate and faces challenges. Critics argue that imposing a uniform approach may dilute the unique identities of religious communities and undermine their cherished traditions and practices. Concerns are raised regarding the diversity within religious communities themselves, with over 200 tribes in the Northeast region following their own customary laws. The Constitution recognizes and protects local customs in certain states, highlighting the need to respect cultural practices while promoting gender equality.
The UCC also faces challenges in areas such as compulsory marriage registration, the legal age of marriage, and taxation and banking laws. Discrepancies exist within personal laws regarding child marriages and age of consent, creating complexities in implementing a uniform legal framework. The tax regime and banking systems lack recognition and provisions for families belonging to religions other than Hinduism, raising concerns about fair treatment and equality.
The 21st Law Commission of India has expressed the opinion that implementing a UCC is not necessary or desirable at the current stage. Instead, it advocates for reforming family laws within religious communities, incorporating gender-just amendments and codification. The Commission emphasizes the importance of upholding women’s freedom of faith and their right to equality, without compromising their cultural diversity or marginalizing specific groups.
The Supreme Court has played a significant role in the UCC debate, offering perspectives on the matter. The court has emphasized the need for a balanced approach, considering both the quest for equality and the preservation of cultural diversity. It has recognized the importance of reforming family laws within religious communities to ensure gender justice and protect women’s rights while respecting the principles of cultural pluralism.
In conclusion, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) aims to establish a unified and comprehensive set of legal regulations governing personal matters in India. While it offers advantages such as eliminating religious discrimination, promoting national integration, and rectifying gender inequalities, the UCC also faces challenges related to cultural diversity, compulsory registration, age of marriage, and taxation and banking laws. The 21st Law Commission has advocated for reforming family laws within religious communities, and the Supreme Court has emphasized the need for a balanced approach. Ultimately, the implementation of a well-crafted and inclusive UCC requires careful consideration to strike a balance between equality, cultural diversity, and individual rights.
While the Uttarakhand government has made preparations to implement the Uniform Civil Code, The Jamiat Ulema Hind has termed the BJP government’s absurd move to seek suggestions on the UCC at this time. Samajwadi Party leader Ahmed Hasan has even said that even if the NDA government brings a Uniform Civil Code, it means that the Muslim community will only recognize Sharia laws. Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said that if the central government brings the UCC, it will affect not only Muslims, but also Hindus as there are some sects of Hinduism that do not accept the Hindu Code Bill itself. On the other hand, Congress leader Arjun Modwadia has said that UCC is a fake issue of BJP. He said that whenever elections come near, BJP starts remembering Article 44 and Uniform Civil Code.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind claimed that the Uniform Civil Code was against the religious freedom granted under the Constitution, but said it would not hit the streets, protest and make every effort to protest within the confines of the law. Despite all the above, Goa is the only state which has a Uniform Civil Code. There, courts and general administration also have a lot of convenience in law and order.