In this article, we will discuss about Uniform Civil Code in India and the importance of Article 44. As you might be aware that Uniform Civil Code is all about to bringing a common set of laws for all citizens belonging to different religions in the Country.
Does Uniform Civil Code is mentioned in Constitution
Uniform Civil Code is enshrined in Article 44 of Constitution of India as Directive Principles of State Policy. DPSP makes the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code as fundamental duty of the State.
What is Directive Principles of State Policy(DPSP)
The Concept of DPSP did not originated in India. It was borrowed from Article 45 of the Irish Constitution. Unlike Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy are non-binding in nature which means they are not enforceable in nature by the Courts. Directive Principles of State Policy are mentioned in the Part IV of the Indian Constitution from Articles 36 to 51.
Uniform Civil Code in India
Recently in a Judgement of Legitimising the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, Supreme Court lauded the effort of Goa as a Prime Example with a Uniform Civil Code(UCC) and further stated that the founders of Constitution had hoped and expected a UCC for India but government seems to be not making any effort yet.
Observation from Law Commission of India
In regard to UCC, Law Commission of India clearly states that as of now, it is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage. As per Law Commission report, the way forward may not be a uniform civil code but the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereo-types in every one of them can be highlighted and tested on account of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Indian Constitution.
Dr BR Ambedkar View on Uniform Civil Code
Ambedkar‘s position in the Constituent Assembly debates towards a uniform civil code was that such a code would be desirable but for the moment would remain voluntary. He, however also pointed out that before the Muslim Personal Law Shariat Application Act 1937, Muslims in many parts were governed by Hindu law and even Marumukkatayam system of inheritance and succession which had been prevalent in many of the Southern Indian States.
Tracts of the Constituent Assembly debates reveal that there was no consensus in the Constituent Assembly about what a potential uniform civil code would entail. While many thought uniform civil code would coexist alongside personal law systems, while others thought that it was to replace personal law. There were yet others who believed that a uniform civil code would deny freedom of religion.
It was due to this uncertainty about what exceptions were acceptable as freedoms‘ and what exceptions would in fact deny this very freedom that led the assembly to contain the provision of uniform civil code in Article 44 of the constitution among Directive Principles of State Policy rather than Fundamental Rights. Interestingly there were also groups that staunchly opposed the Hindu Code Bill but found the uniform civil code more palatable thus betraying the lack of clarity on the potential implication of a code. More on Law Commission of India Report.
Why Need Uniform Civil Code in India
At the end of the day, it is always that question “Why India need Uniform Civil Code”. To understand this question, first we need to understand which are the laws and acts currently working in India in the absence of UCC. Below are the different lists of marriage and divorce acts enacted in India :-
- The Converts’ Marriage Dissolution Act, enacted during 1866
- The Indian Divorce Act, enacted in 1869
- The Indian Christian Marriage Act, enacted during 1872
- The Kazis Act, enacted during 1880
- The Anand Marriage Act, enacted in 1909
- The Indian Succession Act, enacted during 1925
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act, enacted in 1929
- The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, enacted in 1936
- The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, enacted during 1939
- The Special Marriage Act, enacted during 1954
- The Hindu Marriage Act, enacted during 1955
- The Foreign Marriage Act, enacted in 1969 and
- The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, enacted in 1986.
Once India has the Uniform Code, all the above laws and acts won’t be needed and hence will get abolished. There are many religious practices currently dominant in the society which are contrary to the fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution. All these Issues will be solved after the implementation of Uniform Civil Code in India.
About Law Commission of India
Law Commission of India is the executive body established by the Government of India. The first law commission was set up during the British Era in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833. Justice B.S Chauhan is the Chairman of 21st Law Commission of India.
Pros of Uniform Civil Code in India
- It will provide equal rights to everybody in the society.
- It will uplift the status of women in the Society.
- It will reduce the Case overload in High Court and Supreme Court.
- It will create a harmony among the people of different societies.
- It will stop the separate religious practices.
Cons of Uniform Civil Code in India
- It requires changes and amendments in lot of currently implemented laws and acts.
- India is a country of diverse religion and castes which makes the implementation of a uniform law a daunting task.
- Potential of spreading hatred and violence in Society by misinterpreting the meaning of Uniform Civil Code.