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Uniform Civil Code (UCC): Advantages and disadvantages

Uniform Civil Code

The Uniform Civil Code is the application of one national civil irrespective of their religion. Uniform civil code covers various areas like marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. As these matters are secular in nature so that it can be enacted through a uniform law. In other words, this can be termed as personal law. Although some are describing this as the government’s infringe into personal freedom, the uniform civil code has certain advantages also.

Our Constitution and Uniform Civil code

The Indian constitution has a provision for Uniform Civil Code in Article 44 as a Directive Principle of State Policy which states that the state shall endeavor to all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Advantages of Uniform Civil codeUniform Civil Code

  • Gender Equality

By the implementation of a uniform civil code across the nation will enable to abolish gender discrimination from the nation. For example, according to various religions, inheritance, marriages etc are male-dominated. After seven decades of independence also women are battling for equality

  • A boost to National Integrity

The formation of UCC will boost the national integrity. Even though our country has diverse cultural values, a unified personal law irrespective of gender, caste, creed etc will boost the national unity.

  • Cornerstone of secularism

The preamble of our constitution clearly states that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular state. But it is high time to think that whether the citizens of India will enjoy real secularism without the implementation of UCC. Even after decades of independence also different personal laws are in existence for different religions.

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  • Social reforms

Once the UCC is formulated across the nation, India will undergo another social reform in this century. For instance, in the Indian context, Muslim women are denied personal laws in relation to marriage, divorce etc. On contrary, various Muslim nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Morocco etc women enjoy codified personal laws. So after the implementation of UCC Indian women [especially Muslims, Christians etc] will also enjoy a codified personal law. Therefore, a stepping stone towards another social reform across the country.

Disadvantages of Uniform Civil Code

  • A threat to communal harmony

Potential misunderstandings regarding the Uniform Civil Code created a fear among various religions especially minorities. It is often viewed by many religions that UCC is aimed against their religious customs and values. Before the implementation of UCC, authorities should win the trust of minorities. Otherwise, it will destroy the communal harmony of the nation.

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  • Government’s interference into personal freedom

It is often viewed by many that it is the crooked game of the government to interfere in personal freedom of individuals. But Uniform Civil Code is aiming only to protect and safeguard the rights of all citizens.

  • Not yet the correct time for implementation

The Muslim community is opposing the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code and stating that it is not the correct time. Also, they are arguing that the subject should take into consideration along with other recent issues the silence of authorities in relation to saffronization of schools, beef issues etc are triggering them and further stating as the overruling of majorities over minorities.

  • Difficulties due to India’s diversity

The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code is a cumbersome task due to a wide diversity of our nation. Cultural differences from state to state and community to community is yet another hindrance for a unified personal law.

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Conclusion

The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code can be considered as the need of the hour. Even after years of achieving independence, citizens are not enjoying real freedom yet. The unified personal law cannot be viewed with religious emotion but it as the need for the country.

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5 thoughts on “Uniform Civil Code (UCC): Advantages and disadvantages”

  1. Uniform civil code: will it work in India?
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    It needs to be asked if it is possible or practicable to reconcile divergent laws and formulate a uniform or common code acceptable to all the communities

    Article 44 of the Constitution — which talks of a uniform civil code for all Indians — was the subject of a recent debates.

    The main argument of those who spoke in favour of such a code was that it has the potential to unite India because Hindus and Muslims had followed the “common customary Hindu civil code” smoothly till 1937 when “the Muslim League-British combine” divided them by imposing sharia on Muslims through the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act.

    But only a minuscule minority of Muslims followed Hindu customs before 1937. Even this section had the right under laws such as the Cutchi Memons Act, 1920 and the Mahomedan Inheritance Act (II of 1897) to opt for “Mahomedan Law”. As for a majority of Muslims, there is enough evidence to show they followed Muslim law, not the Hindu civil code.

    In 1790, when Governor-General Cornwallis introduced a three-tier court system in Bengal (which was subsequently extended to other parts of India) he included qazis and muftis as “law officers” to assist British judges. The highest criminal court of this system, Sadr Nizamat Adalat, was assisted by the chief qazi of the district and two muftis. In cases pertaining to Muslims it had to apply Islamic law as per the fatwas of these law officers, which were binding on the court. The British judges had to wait till 1817 to overrule the fatwas when a resolution was introduced to repeal their binding character (Rudolph Peters: Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law).

    Before Cornwallis, Warren Hastings had decreed in 1772 that in matters of inheritance, marriage and other such religious affairs “the laws of the Koran with respect to the Mahomedans and those of the Shastra with respect to the Gentoos [Hindus] shall be invariably adhered to.” (Richard Shweder & Others: Engaging Cultural Differences). Even when the Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, Muslim personal laws were left untouched.

    However, these laws were sometimes superseded by antiquated customs that had acquired the force of law. For example, as per prevailing custom, property received by a woman as inheritance or gift was not hers and had to be given back to the heirs of the last male owner [ Muhammad v. Amir (1889) P.R. 31, cited in Mulla, Principles of Mahomedan Law]. As such customs deprived Muslim women of their property rights in Islam, Muslims wanted only Muslim law to be made applicable to them.

    Act of 1937

    The Shariat Act of 1937 was the result of this demand. It repealed all such provisions in earlier legislation that permitted custom to override ‘Mahomedan law’ in cases where the parties were Muslims. But the British did not impose this Act on all Muslims. It was made applicable (per Section 3) only to those Muslims who declared in writing their intent to come under it. This explodes the myth that it sought to divide Indians on communal lines.

    Nevertheless, a comparative study of the personal laws of Hindus, Muslims and other minorities will reveal that the sheer diversity of these laws, coupled with the dogmatic zeal with which they are adhered to, cannot permit uniformity of any sort. In fact, the heterogeneity of Hindu law itself is such that even the possibility of a uniform Hindu code is ruled out.

    Talking of marriage alone, under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, marriages may be solemnised in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of a variety of people who come under the definition of a Hindu. For instance, according to the saptapadhi form of marriage that is followed mostly in northern India, the marriage is deemed to be complete and binding when the couple take seven steps around the sacred fire.

    On the other hand, in the south suyamariyathai and seerthiruththa forms of marriage are followed. Under these, the marriage is valid if the parties to the marriage declare in the presence of relatives that they are marrying each other, or if they garland each other, or put a ring on each other’s fingers or if the bridegroom ties a thali around the neck on the bride.

    Rites and ceremonies

    Also, for a marriage to be valid under Hindu law it has to be solemnised in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of at least one of the parties. Thus, if a Jain marries a Buddhist by performing the rites of a Sikh, the marriage is invalid ( Sakuntala v Nilakantha 1972, Mah LR 31, cited in Family Law by Paras Divan). In Muslim law there are no elaborate rites or ceremonies, but Sunni and Shia practices differ.

    It, therefore, needs to be asked if it is possible or practicable to reconcile these divergent laws and formulate a uniform or common code that is acceptable to all communities.

    India already has an optional civil code in the form of the Special Marriages Act, 1954. This, read with similar Acts such as the Indian Succession Act, 1925, provides a good legal framework for all matters of marriage, divorce, maintenance and succession for those who may wish to avoid the religion-based laws.

    a 1974 government survey shows that Muslims account for 5.6 per cent of all bigamous marriages, whereas upper-caste Hindus account for 5.8 per cent, translating into real numbers as one crore Hindu men and 12 lakh Muslim men. (Agnes, 2015). This does not deny the fact that bigamy/polygamy is morally questionable; the implication is that Muslim marriages are contractual and hence women within the marriages have more rights than a sacramental Hindu marriage.

  2. In conclusion, its not mentioned that its a must.but it is said,need of the hour, means essential for India.Focus on second last and last sentence that gives explanation

  3. Salmeen Hussain

    You are mentioning the disadvantages and disadvantages of UCC. and then in the conclusion, you end by saying that UCC is a must. Please ensure maintaining some fluency in writing articles on the internet.

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