Uniform Civil Code-Know All About It.

Uniform Civil Code-Know All About It.


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is the formulation of one law for India, which will apply to all religious communities in matters concerning marriage, divorce/separation, inheritance, and adoption. This civil code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which states that the government should try to implement a Uniform Civil Code for citizens across India.

The UCC has been the focal point of political narrative and debate for over a century and is also a priority agenda for the elected government party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been pushing to legalize it in Parliament. The saffron party was the first one to promise that it will implement UCC if it is elected and the issue was also included in its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto.

 Why is Article 44 important?

The objective of Article 44 in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination faced by vulnerable groups of people and keep harmony among the diverse cultural groups across the country. When Dr. B R Ambedkar was writing the Constitution, he said that a UCC is needed but for the moment it will be voluntary. So, Article 35 of the Constitutional draft was added as a part of the directive principle as Article 44 to the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India. It was included in the Constitution as an aspect that can be used by the nations when they are ready for the social acceptance of the UCC could be made.

Dr. B R Ambedkar in his speech in the Constituent Assembly had given the speech, "Do not be apprehensive about the power the state will have as the State will instantly proceed to implement it but the manner in which they might to do so may be found to be objectionable by the Muslims or by the Christians or by any other religious community. I think it would be a mad government if it did so."

 Origin of Uniform Civil Code

The origin of the UCC goes back to colonial India when the British government in its 1835 report suggested the need for uniformity in Indian law related to crimes, evidence, and contracts, but they specifically recommended that the personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside the uniformity.

As the British government was dealing with increased legislation and personal issues in the far, it forced the government to create the B N Rau Committee to craft Hindu law in 1941. The task of this Law Committee was to look at the question if common Hindu laws were necessary. The committee then keeping in mind the scriptures, recommended a unified Hindu law, which would provide equal rights to women. The 1937 Act was reviewed and therefore the committee suggested a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.

 What is the Hindu Code Bill?

The Rau Committee draft report was submitted to the selected committee which was chaired by B.R. Ambedkar that came up for discussion in 1951 after the Constitution was formed. As the discussions continued, the Hindu Code Bill lapsed and was resubmitted in 1952. The bill was adopted in 1956 under the name of the Hindu Succession Act to amend and draft the law relating to unrepresented or unwilled succession, among religions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. The Act was done to reform the Hindu personal law and it gave women greater property rights and ownership in their father's estate.

The general rule of succession under the 1956 Act for a male who dies without a will is that the oldest heir will succeed in preference to heirs in other classes. An amendment to the Act was done in the year 2005 which added more descendants and elevated females to Class I heirs. The daughter is allotted the same share as a son.

Difference between civil laws and criminal laws

The criminal laws in India are uniform and equally, apply to Muslims all, no matter their religious beliefs, however, the civil laws are predisposed by faith. Usually swayed by religious texts, the personal laws in effect in civil cases are implemented conferring to constitutional norms.

What are personal laws?

Laws that apply to some group of people based on their religion, caste, faith, and belief which is drafted after due consideration of customs and religious texts. The personal laws of Hindus and Muslim's sources and authority are in their ancient religious texts.

In Hinduism, personal laws apply to legal issues related to inheritance, succession, marriage, adoption, co-parenting, the obligation of sons to pay off their father’s debts, the division in family property, maintenance, guardianship, and charitable donations. In Islam, personal laws apply to legal matters related to inheritance, wills, succession, legacies, marriage, wakfs, dowry, guardianship, divorce, gifts, and pre-emption originating from Quran.

 What will Uniform Civil Code do?

 The UCC will provide protection to vulnerable sections unforeseen by Ambedkar which includes women and religious minorities but also promote nationalistic fervor through unity. When implemented the code will work to unify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and others. The code aims to simplify the complex laws of marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions making the same for all. The same civil law will then apply to all citizens irrespective of their faith and religion.

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