Uniform Civil Code (UCC): History, Articles, Defects, Challenges

By K Balaji|Updated : July 22nd, 2022

Uniform Civil Code means a uniform personal law for all citizens of the country. This code will replace the existing religious personal laws in India and have a uniform law that will cater to all the citizens, irrespective of their religion. Many people refer to Uniform Civil Code as UCC In simple words, it means one law for the entire country that applies to all sections of the society barring any specific religion. The term, ‘Uniform Civil Code’ is explicitly mentioned in Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. Article 44 is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy.

Having a Uniform Civil Code in a country is not just a matter of justice but it is also a matter of how a country accommodates the diverse population residing within it.

Uniform Civil Code is an important part of Indian Polity. It is a widely debated topic with questions being asked in the UPSC Exams. The topic is also covered in GS Paper 2 and is relevant to the Essay Paper too. Go through the article and learn more about the UCC, along with all the recent happenings associated with it.

Table of Content

What is Uniform Civil Code?

Uniform as the word says includes personal laws of citizens that are applied equally no matter to which religion, sex, gender, and sexual orientation they belong to. A Uniform Civil Code means that all sections of the society irrespective of their religion shall be treated equally according to a national civil code, which shall be applicable to all uniformly. The UCC is explicitly mentioned in Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. It states that- “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.

Though, Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, corresponds with Directive Principles of State Policy making it mandatory for the State to provide its citizens with a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India. Nonetheless, Article 37 of the Constitution itself makes it clear the DPSP “shall not be enforceable by any court”. This indicates that although our constitution itself believes that a Uniform Civil Code should be implemented in some manner, it does not make this implementation mandatory.

History of Uniform Civil Code

The colonial period in India saw the debate for a Uniform Civil Code and hence it dates back that long and originated when the British government submitted their report in 1835 to have a uniform codification of Indian laws making it easier to provide justice. In the pre-independence times (colonial era), criminal laws were codified and became common for the whole country. While the personal laws continued to be governed by separate codes for different communities.

The Post-Colonial era (1947-1985) saw the drafting of the Constitution of India where the prominent leaders pushed for a Uniform Civil Code mainly due to the opposition from religious fundamentalists and ignorant masses during the time. Some reforms that took place during that period were The Hindu code bill, Succession Act, The Hindu Marriage Act, the Minority and Guardianship Act, and the Adoptions and Maintenance Act to name a few.

For the very first time in the year 1985, it was the apex court of India that gave the directions to the Parliament to structure a Uniform Civil Code related to the case of Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, that later on came to be known as the Shah Bano case to the country as a whole. This case of Shah Bano revolved around getting the maintenance amount from her husband once she got triple talaq as per Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. However, it was the government that reversed the decision related to her case by coming out with Muslim Women (Right to Protection on Divorce) Act, 1986. As per this Act, a Muslim woman did not have the right to ask for maintenance under the previous Act. Finally, by 2017, the Triple Talaq, or talaq-e-bidat as it was known to the community was pronounced unconstitutional and against the law.

Another important case that came to the limelight was the Sarla Mudgal Case in the year 1995 which brought forward the issue of bigamy and disagreement on matters of marriage under the existing personal laws.

Arguments in Favour of Uniform Civil Code

A Uniform Civil Code is significant in bringing the country together as it is rich in diverse religions, customs, and practices. Though independence did the same thing, the uniform civil code has a lot more to offer. One national civil code of conduct will be followed for bringing all the Indians belonging to different castes, religions, or tribes under the same roof. Equality would be the buzzword with no discrimination of any kind making one and all feel like one. This would mean more power and great force to mankind making the country come out much stronger by following the simple legal system that would benefit all.

Why does India need Uniform Civil Code?

Applying the Uniform Civil Code meant bringing India together as a country since people from all parts of the country follow different religions, customs, and practices. The aim of bringing the code is to integrate India. One national civil code of conduct for all the citizens of the country will treat them as equals. Uniform Civil Code will cover areas like marriage, divorce, inheritance, maintenance, adoption, and succession of the property, where everyone would be equal.

Uniform Civil Code Article

As per Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, the country's citizens should be treated equally without any form of discrimination. Religion should not separate them at any point in time and keep them united. It covers areas like marriage, divorce, inheritance, maintenance, adoption, and succession of the property where everyone is equal and the same code of conduct must be followed for all.

Uniform Civil Code in Goa

Goa is a great example as called over by the apex court of India, the Supreme Court, due to the applicability of the Uniform Civil Code to one and all. No matter to which religion they belong and in the process securing the limited rights under the Portuguese Civil Code that came into being in 1867. It was the common civil code that got introduced in Goa in 1870. Over time, the code saw many changes based on different decrees. The modern version of the law came to light in 1966.

Implications of Uniform Civil Code on Personal Laws

Uniform Civil Code meant one code over personal laws uniting all the citizens regardless of the religion they follow, the sex to which they belong along with their gender, and sexual orientation. This is because most of the personal laws based in different communities depending on their religious books and related stuff thus bringing a big divide. Hence uniform civil code meant following just one common law irrespective of the community to which one belongs along with the faith being practised.

Defects of Uniform Civil Code

India is a country with vast diversity in religions, castes, traditions, customs, etc. hence it is practically not feasible to bring this code to the country with great ease. People belonging to religious minorities are of the view that the application of the code implies encroachment on their rights to religious freedom. UCC might go against the Constitution by violating the right to freedom of religion.

The introduction of UCC at this particular point of time when the country is already going through a lot of controversies is not suitable or desirable as such.

Challenges in Implementation of Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code brought people together by following one common code of conduct but many were of the view that it violated the fundamental rights of the people as it was in a conflict with what is stated as part of them. Freedom of sense of right and wrong belonging to a free profession, practise, and propagation of religions as per Article 25, and the freedom to manage religious affairs under Article 26 get infringed.

Suggestions for Successful Implementation of Uniform Civil Code

Uniformity of laws and the accomplishment of common objectives as per the Constitution meant making the people progressive and broad-minded to accept the laws that are good for the society as a whole. Spreading this education by making maximum people aware of the code and coming up with sensitization programs was the need of the hour. All the religions must be given due importance and none of them should be given a backseat by any chance. The sentiments of people from different communities must be preserved and they should not feel hurt at any point in time with the coming up of these laws. It is a sensitive issue that must be taken good care of for the welfare of the country and its people alike.

Uniform Civil Code UPSC Questions

Question: Which of the case is related to the Uniform Civil Code?

  1. Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum
  2. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India
  3. Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan
  4. Lily Thomas v. Union of India

Answer: Option 1

Uniform Civil Code UPSC

Uniform Civil Code is relevant for both, UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. Aspirants should study the Uniform Civil Code topics from the NCERT Books for UPSC, UPSC Books, and Polity Books for UPSC to cover the topic in every aspect. Once done with the UPSC Syllabus the candidates should solve the UPSC Previous Year Questions Papers and go through the UPSC Study Material. Uniform Civil Code should be covered well for the UPSC Exam.

Uniform Civil Code UPSC Notes PDF

Uniform Civil Code should be studied in detail for the UPSC Exam as it is currently relevant. The topic of the Uniform Civil Code should be covered from Current Affairs as well to be updated with the recent happenings. For other relevant pieces of information, go through the article on Uniform Civil Code, and download the PDF to revise on the go.

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FAQs on Uniform Civil Code

  • Uniform Civil Code is a common code or law governing every citizen and replacing the personal laws based on religion or any other discrimination.

  • The areas covered are marriage, divorce, inheritance, maintenance, adoption, and succession of the property where everyone is equal and the same code of conduct must be followed for all.

  • Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, corresponds with Directive Principles of State Policy making it mandatory for the State to provide its citizens with a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.

  • The Hindu code bill, Succession Act, The Hindu Marriage Act, Minority and Guardianship Act, and Adoptions and Maintenance Act to name a few.

  • The Uniform Civil Code made the nation speak together by following one common law giving equal status to its entire people without any discrimination. This would relieve the country’s judiciary by making them take up only those cases that needed attention and would help simplify the legal system by getting away with complex laws and legalities. This would help speed up the process and justice won’t be delayed anymore.

  • The father of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar felt the need for the code while bringing up the Constitution but he was of the idea that for the time being, the code should not be made permanent but should remain voluntary. This was when Article 35 under the draft Constitution was made a part of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44.

  • The Uniform Civil Code was brought into action to replace the personal laws that are being followed by the people of the different communities practising different religions by following the faith of their own. These personal laws were based on the religious scriptures and customs that varied making it important to bring a common set of laws governing every citizen so that no one would have a feeling of their rights getting hampered by any means.

  • Different religions and state matters meant a divide between what is followed by the people of the country that is known to be a secular nation. That is why India has no Uniform Civil Code which was later brought with the help of the Constitution to bring people together and keep them united by following one single law rather than different laws as per their community rules and readings.

  • When it comes to following Uniform Civil Code, Goa is the only state in India that has kept religions, genders, and different castes apart by following a common family law. Here, people from different religions are bound to follow the same law when it comes to marriage, divorce, succession, etc.

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