Uniform Civil Code

Why In News ?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for the enactment of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), pointing out the anomaly of having varying laws for different categories of citizens.

What Is UCC ?

  • Uniform Civil Code (UCC) provides for one law for the entire country across all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.
  • UCC is defined in Article 44 as part of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), in part of Part IV of the Constitution.
  • Article 44 – states that ‘The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India’.
  • Legality – The legality of UCC is rooted in the Constitution of India, Constituent Assembly debates and also Supreme Court of India judgments.
  • Though DPSP is fundamental to the country’s governance, it is not enforceable or justiciable in a court of law.

Historical Background :

  • Origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.
  • Increase in legislation dealing with personal issues in the far end of British rule forced the government to form the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941.
  • Hindu Succession Act, 1956 amended and codified the law relating to unwilled succession, among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. However, there were separate personal laws for Muslims, Christians and Parsis.

Status Of UCC In India :

Goa is the only state in India with a UCC. It follows the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867.

Important Cases Related To UCC :

  • Shah Bano Begum v. Mohammad Ahmed Khan (1985) – SC held the right of a Muslim woman to claim maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the CrPC, even after the expiry of the Iddat period.

UCC would help in removing contradictions based on ideologies.

  • Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India (1995) – Hindu husband cannot convert to Islam and marry another woman without dissolving his first marriage.
  • Shayara Bano v. Union of India ( 2017 ) – Supreme Court declared the practice of triple Talaq as unconstitutional.

Quick Facts

  • Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion.
  • Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.

Practice Question :

The Supreme Courts have frequently stated in their judgments that the government should move toward a UCC in order to promote uniformity. Which judgment is a well known case for UCC?

a) Kesavananda Bharati Case, 1973.

b) Sarla Mudgal Case, 1995.

c) Indra Sawhney Case, 1992.

d) Gideon Case, 1963.