Uniform Civil Code (UCC) – Essay, Article 44 of Indian Constitution

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Uniform Civil Code aims to establish a single national law that would apply to all faith communities in matters of personal concern, such as adoption, inheritance, and marriage. The Uniform Civil Code in India will replace the existing religious personal laws in India and have a uniform law that will cater to all citizens, irrespective of their 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. A country’s Uniform Civil Code is not just a matter of justice, it is also a matter of how a country accommodates its diverse population.

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. 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 apply to all uniformly.

Uniform Civil Code Notes

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution states that- “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. The concept of a Uniform Civil Code aims to promote equality, social justice, and gender parity by eliminating disparate legal provisions that exist within different religious communities.

History of Uniform Civil Code

The colonial period in India saw the debate for a Uniform Civil Code. Hence, it dates back that long and originated when the British government submitted its 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.
  • The prominent leaders pushed for a Uniform Civil Code mainly due to the opposition from religious fundamentalists and ignorant masses.
  • 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.

Shah Bano Case

For the very first time in the year 1985, it was the supreme 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, the government 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.

Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India

Another important case that came to the limelight was the Sarla Mudgal Case in 1995, which brought forward the issue of bigamy and disagreement on marriage matters under the existing personal laws. According to the court, a Hindu marriage that has been solemnized in accordance with Hindu law may only be dissolved on one of the grounds listed in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.

A second marriage that is solemnized after converting to Islam would be unlawful under section 494 of the Indian Penal Code since it would not automatically invalidate the Hindu marriage under the legislation (IPC).

Article 44 of Indian Constitution

As per Article 44 is one of the important articles in Indian Constitution, which states 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.
  • Though, Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, corresponds with Directive Principles of State Policy directing 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 somehow, it does not make this implementation mandatory.

Uniform Civil Code in India

A Uniform Civil Code is significant in bringing India together as it is rich in diverse religions, customs, and practices. Though independence did the same thing, the uniform civil code has much more to offer. One national civil code of conduct will be followed to bring 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 everyone 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 UCC in India is meant to bring 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 country’s citizens 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 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 are 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 practiced.

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 belonged and in the process of 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.

Arguments in Favor of the Uniform Civil Code

The topic of implementing a UCC in India has been a subject of debate and discussion, with arguments both for and against it. Below we have listed the arguments in favor of UCC.

  • Equality and Secularism: Supporters argue that a UCC would promote equality and secularism by treating all citizens equally under one law, regardless of their religious beliefs. It would eliminate discriminatory practices and ensure equal rights and opportunities for all, regardless of their religious affiliations.
  • Gender Justice: Advocates claim that a UCC would promote gender justice by addressing discriminatory practices prevalent in personal laws across religions. Uniformity in marriage, divorce, and inheritance laws would help in ensuring equal rights and protection for women, eliminating gender-based discrimination.
  • National Integration: Proponents argue that a UCC would strengthen national integration by fostering a sense of unity and shared identity among diverse religious communities. It would promote social cohesion and harmony by bridging the gaps created by different personal laws based on religion.

Arguments Against the Uniform Civil Code

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a proposal for a single set of civil laws to govern personal matters, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption, for all citizens of India, irrespective of their religion. However, there have been some arguments made against UCC’s implementation.

  • Protection of Minority Rights: Opponents argue that implementing a UCC would undermine the rights of religious and cultural minorities. They believe that personal laws based on religion are an integral part of the cultural identity and autonomy of minority communities, and any attempt to impose a uniform code would infringe upon their rights to practice and preserve their customs and traditions.
  • Pluralism and Diversity: Critics contend that a UCC would disregard the rich diversity of India and the coexistence of multiple religious and cultural practices. They argue that personal laws based on religious principles are an essential aspect of preserving the pluralistic fabric of the country, allowing different communities to uphold their unique customs and traditions.
  • Feasibility and Consensus: Some argue that implementing a UCC is not feasible due to the complex and sensitive nature of personal laws. They claim that it would require extensive consultation and consensus-building among various religious groups, which may be challenging to achieve. Any attempt to impose a UCC without adequate consensus could lead to social unrest and discontent.

Challenges with Uniform Civil Code in India

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 conflict with what is stated as part of them. Freedom of sense of right and wrong belonging to a free profession, practice, and propagation of religions as per Article 25, and the freedom to manage religious affairs under Article 26 get infringed.

Suggestions for Implementation of UCC in India

  • 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 society as a whole.
  • Spreading this education by making a maximum number of people aware of the code and developing sensitization programs was the need of the hour. All 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.

Way Forward Uniform Civil Code

The implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India is a complex and sensitive issue that requires careful consideration and deliberation. Here are some suggestions for the way forward:

  • Inclusive and Consultative Approach: Any discussion or formulation of a UCC should involve extensive consultation with various stakeholders, including religious leaders, legal experts, scholars, and representatives from minority communities.
  • Gradual and Progressive Implementation: Given the diverse religious and cultural fabric of India, the implementation of a UCC can be approached gradually and progressively.
  • Focus on Gender Justice: A key objective of a UCC should be to promote gender justice and eliminate discriminatory practices in personal laws.
  • Awareness and Education: As the UCC involves significant changes in personal laws, it is crucial to create awareness and educate people about its objectives, benefits, and implications.

Uniform Civil Code UPSC

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a topic of great significance in the UPSC exam as it holds immense relevance in the context of India’s diverse social fabric and legal framework. The UPSC Polity Syllabus explicitly mentions UCC. Understanding the importance of the Uniform Civil Code is crucial for aspirants as it touches upon constitutional principles, societal harmonization, gender equality. Furthermore, it invites discussions on secularism, fundamental rights, and the complex dynamics of Indian society, making it a significant topic for UPSC examination preparation.

Uniform Civil Code MCQs

Question: The Uniform Civil Code aims to: a) Establish a common religion for all citizens b) Standardize personal laws across religious communities c) Impose restrictions on religious practices d) Promote religious diversity

Answer: b) Standardize personal laws across religious communities

Question: Which article of the Indian Constitution mentions the Uniform Civil Code? a) Article 14 b) Article 21 c) Article 25 d) Article 44

Answer: d) Article 44

Question: The Uniform Civil Code is based on the principle of: a) Gender equality b) Religious supremacy c) Caste discrimination d) Linguistic diversity

Answer: a) Gender equality

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