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Uniform Civil Code

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 02, May 2022
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The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has yet again taken strong objections to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), stating that it is unconstitutional, anti-minority and unacceptable to Muslims.

  • It also stressed that the UCC issue is being raised to divert attention from real issues and promote an agenda of hatred and discrimination. 

What is the uniform civil code?

A generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion. 

What the constitution says?

Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them. 

India needs a Uniform Civil Code for the following reasons:

  • secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
  • Gender justice: The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
  • Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case. 

Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?

Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters – Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws. 

Why is UCC not desirable at this point?

  • Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
  • Cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.

Constitutional Hurdle:

Article 25 of Indian constitution, that seeks to preserve the freedom to practise and propagate any religion gets into conflict with the concepts of equality enshrined under Article 14 of Indian Constitution.