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Uttarakhand likely to be first state to implement UCC |

Uttarakhand likely to be first state to implement UCC

Context

∙ The Defence Minister of India has said that Uttarakhand is likely to become the first state in the country to implement a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

What is Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?

∙ A Uniform Civil Code refers to the provision of one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities, in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, etc.

∙ Currently, separate personal laws apply for the members of different major religions.

Constitutional Provisions

∙ Article 44 contained in part IV of the Constitution says that the state “shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.

∙ Part IV of the Constitution outlines the Directive Principles of State Policy, which, while not enforceable or justiciable in a court of law, are fundamental to the country’s governance.

UCC in India

∙ UCC in Goa: It follows the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, which means that people of all religions in Goa are subject to the same laws on marriage, divorce, and succession.

∙ The Goa Daman and Diu Administration Act of 1962, which was passed after Goa joined the union as a territory in 1961, gave Goa permission to apply the Civil Code.

∙ States like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Assam have also expressed their willingness to follow the UCC, none have officially adopted it.

Arguments in favor of UCC

∙ Uniformity in Governance: Having a common set of laws would streamline governance and administrative processes, making it easier for the state to administer justice and ensure the rights of its citizens.

∙ Women’s Rights: Personal laws in different religions may have discriminatory provisions, particularly against women, and a uniform code will provide a more egalitarian legal framework.

∙ Secularism: A Uniform Civil Code is seen as a way to reinforce the secular fabric of the country by treating all citizens equally irrespective of their religious affiliations.

∙ International Image: Implementing a UCC may enhance India’s international image by demonstrating a commitment to principles of equality, secularism, and human rights.

∙ The Supreme Court in various judgments including Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum judgment of 1985, has called for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code.

∙ Promote national Spirit: The implementation of a UCC will promote the integration of India by establishing a shared platform for diverse communities.

Arguments against UCC

∙ Plurality in existing laws: Experts argue that if there is plurality in already codified civil and criminal laws, how can the concept of ‘one nation, one law’ be applied to diverse personal laws of various communities.

∙ Issues with implementation: The implementation of the code has been difficult because India is a diverse country with various religious communities following their own personal laws.

∙ It has been argued that the marriage and death rituals observed by tribal communities differ from Hindu customs, and there is concern that these practices may also face prohibition.

∙ Challenge for Law and Order: It would be a tyranny to the minority and when implemented could bring a lot of unrest in the country.

∙ Against Constitutional provisions: UCC is perceived as an infringement upon the constitutional right to freely exercise one’s chosen religion found in Article 25 and 26 and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution

∙ Fear among minorities: There is a contention that the Uniform Civil Code may potentially enforce a code that is influenced by Hindu practices in all communities.

∙ The Law Commission of India stated that a UCC “is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage”. It recommended that discriminatory practices, prejudices and stereotypes within a particular religion and its personal laws should be studied and amended.

Way Ahead

∙ The authorities should consult with different sections of society before implementing the UCC to foster an environment of inclusivity, transparency, and respect for diverse perspectives throughout the process.∙ The Law Commission expressed its support for achieving “equality within communities” as opposed to pursuing “equality between” communities

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