With UCC Back in News Here’s What You Need to Know About It.

With UCC Back in News Here’s What You Need to Know About It.


The Uniform Civil Code is on the news again. Recently, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has described the attempts by various state governments and the Centre to implement a Uniform Civil Code in India as “an unconstitutional and anti-minorities move”.

The Muslim law boards said that a day after Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that his government was drafting the first part of a Uniform Civil Code to be implemented in the state. Before the Uttarakhand Assembly election was held, Dhami had promised that a UCC would be implemented in the state if BJP came back in power and looks like his government is delivering on the promise.

But what is UCC? Will Uttarakhand be the first state to introduce the code? Which other states are planning to do the same? How will it impact the citizens of India and why is there so much opposition to it? Let’s take a look at it.


The Uniform Civil Code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution of India, which recommends introducing personal laws that would be applicable to all citizens equally, irrespective of their religion, gender, caste, etc.

Uniform Civil Code will be a common set of laws that will govern personal matters regarding marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, and succession.

Article 44 states, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. However, the article is under the directive principles of state policy, and they are only seen as guidelines and it is not necessary to use them.

Currently, the personal laws of various religious groups are largely governed by their religion.


Personal laws are governed based on people’s religion, caste, faith, and beliefs. These laws have been drafted considering customs and religious texts. These laws pertain to marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, co-parenting, inheritance, succession, the division of family property, guardianship, wills, gifts, charitable donations, etc.

Personal laws of both Hindus and Muslims are drafted on the basis of religious texts and scriptures.

Hindu personal law is the basis of ancient scriptures such as Vedas, Smritis, and Upanishads and modern concepts of justice, equality, conscience etc.

Muslim personal law is based on the Quran and Sunnah (which contains the sayings of Prophet Mohammad and his way of life). Apart from Quran, Ijma which is a consensus among the Muslim jurists on legal issues and Qiyas (analogical deduction) are also the sources for Muslim personal law.

And, Christian personal law is based on Bible, traditions, reason, and experience.

With the introduction of UCC, it is likely that these personal laws will be annulled and brought into a law that would be common to all citizens. As these personal laws are conflicted and contradictory and are not uniformly applied across courts and regions, the introduction of the UCC will likely resolve this problem.


The idea of a Uniform Civil Code has been around in some form in India since the British colonial rule. Although the British wanted the systematization of various laws related to crime, contracts, evidence etc., they were of the view that the personal laws of the Hindus and the Muslims remain separate as part of their divide-and-rule policy.

The Shah Bano case of 1985 was a landmark judgment for Muslim women as it showed progression and also highlighted their plight and challenged religious orthodoxy. It led to the way of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which nullified the Supreme Court order. The act required to give maintenance to a divorced woman during the period of iddat, or till 90 days after the divorce, in accordance with Islamic law.

This case highlighted the domination of political appeasement over equality, human rights and social justice.

The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code has been on the BJP’s radar for a long time. It was one of the key points of the saffron party under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the 1998 elections while the others were repealing Article 370 and the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. With BJP delivered on its latter two points, the BJP is now focusing on bringing a common law in India. In fact, the party included the UCC in its election manifesto for the 2019 General Elections.


In October 2015, the Supreme Court stated that a Uniform Civil Code is important in the country. It said, "The separate laws for different communities cannot be accepted. Otherwise, every religion will think they have the right to decide on various issues as a matter of its personal law. We don’t approve of this at all. It has to be done through a verdict of a court."

In 2016, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi commented that “Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is not only a Muslim issue. It's an issue which will also face opposition from certain Northeast states, especially Nagaland and Mizoram.” Explaining Owaisi’s stand, Bandan Kumar Kar a Gauhati High Court advocate said: “Owaisi could have been talking about the possible change in the tribal laws’ community in the Northeast if a Uniform Civil Code is implemented. Out of India’s 8-10 crore tribal population, around 12% live in the Northeast. These various tribes have their own laws according to their customs.”

“For instance, in Meghalaya, there is a matriarchal society which governs the property succession and marriage laws by their traditions and customs. Similarly, there are tribes in other Northeastern states that have their own laws. Therefore, UCC may be dissatisfactory in the Northeastern region,” Kar said.

“But Justice YV Chandrachud has observed in the 1985 Shah Bano case that ‘common civil code will help in national integration by removing personal laws that have conflicting ideologies’,” Kar said

Speaking about AIMPLB’s opposition, Supreme Court lawyer Pravir Choudhury said: “AIMPLB’s opposition of the code is not right. Currently, Muslim Personal Law deprives women of various rights like succession and equal rights in marriage and divorce. It is obvious, that certain Maulavis (Islamic scholars) would oppose the implementation of this code as it would reduce their power.”

Choudhury stated that “In Hinduism, various social evils, such as Sati, have been abolished. Equality for the right to property was brought in for women. But in Islam, there are no such rights of women and law favours men.”

Explaining his stand, Choudhury gave an example of Muslim women and how the division of property is unfair. The division favours men at a 2:1 ratio. In cases like divorce, Muslim women will get equal rights as Hindu women if UCC is implemented. The Muslim Personal Law, which is partially on the basis of the Sharia law of Islam, permits polygamy. This will also be abolished.”


As suggested by some Uttarkhand may not be the first state to implement a Uniform Civil Code. Goa already has a version which can be implied as UCC. In fact, it is the only state in India that has a common law for all its citizens irrespective of their religion.

The state follows a Portuguese Civil Code, 1867, which is in accordance with Section 5 of The Goa, Daman and Diu (Administration) Act, 1962. The Act states that: “All laws in force immediately before the appointed day in Goa, Daman and Diu or any part thereof shall continue to be in force therein until amended or repealed by a competent Legislature or other competent authority.” Since no major changes were made since Goa got its liberation from the Portuguese in 1961, the state has continued to follow a common law as per the Portuguese Civil Code.


Apart from Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh other BJP-ruled states are looking to bring in common law for citizens.


Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said that the state was planning to implement a Uniform Civil Code. “One law for everyone in one country is required. It is high time that we get out of the system of one law for one person and another for others. We are in favour of implementing a common civil code,” he had said.


Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has said that his government is looking to implement the Uniform Civil Code in the state. He said that his government will examine all the points about the UCC before taking a final decision.


Senior BJP leader Rajya Sabha MP Ajay Pratap Singh has recently urged Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to form a panel that would help in implementing a Uniform Civil Code.

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