Introduction of the Uniform Civil Code will ensure gender equality


Introduction of the Uniform Civil Code will ensure gender equality

Introduction of the Uniform Civil Code will ensure gender

The Uttarakhand government appointed an expert committee to apply the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state on March 24. According to Article 44 of the Constitution, the UCC envisions the creation of a single law that applies to all religions in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption. Many people believe that a uniform civil code is essential for reducing conflicts and inconsistencies caused by numerous personal laws. If Uttarakhand adopts the UCC, it will be the first state in India to do so. Under the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867, a form of UCC persists in Goa under Section 5(1) of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act, 1962. Even after Goa was ceded to the Indian Union in 1961, this code remained kept.

The hesitation of previous ruling political parties has caused a protracted delay in the implementation of UCC in India. Since the Jana Sangh era, the Bharatiya Janata Party has pushed for its implementation. Even the Indian judiciary has urged governments to apply UCC, but it has been unsuccessful.

After the Shah Bano case verdict, UCC had the best chance of being implemented. Shah Bano, a 62-year-old Muslim woman, petitioned the court in 1978, requesting support from her divorced husband MA Khan for herself and her five children under Section 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The clause imposes a legal obligation on a man to provide for his wife both during and after the marriage, if she is unable to care for herself.

Khan, on the other hand, disputed the assertion, claiming that Muslim Personal Law in India only obliged the husband to provide support for the iddat (the period of time a woman must wait after her husband's death or divorce before she can marry another man) period following divorce. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board backed Khan's argument. The Board argued that courts could not intervene in subjects governed by Muslim Personal Law, claiming that doing so would be a violation of the 1937 Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act. In 1985, the Supreme Court upheld the high court's decision to order Shah Bano's maintenance under the CrPC after hearing extensive arguments.

This momentous decision may have been the best opportunity to put UCC into effect. Nonetheless, the efforts of the judiciary were thwarted when the Congress government, led by the late Rajiv Gandhi, saw the verdict as anti-Islamic. It did so while disregarding women's and children's fundamental rights. It passed the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce) Act of 1986, overturning the Shah Bano decision and stating that the maintenance period may only be held liable for the iddat phase. This irritated many Hindus, thus the Congress tried to soothe them by providing shilanyas rights to Lord Ram Lala in Ayodhya.

As a result, many more intra-faith marital victims, like Shah Bano, are still unprotected, thanks to the multi-judiciary system for personal laws.

The Delhi high court agreed in 2021 that a UCC was necessary and urged the Centre to take the requisite procedures. The court stated that modern Indian society is rapidly becoming "homogeneous," with "traditional barriers" of religion, community, and caste disappearing, and that a universal civil code is necessary in light of these shifting paradigms. Justice Prathiba M Singh handed down the ruling on July 7 in a case challenging the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, to parties from the Meena group. Courts, according to Justice Singh, have been constantly confronted with problems arising from personal laws. She saw that people from other communities, castes, and faiths who form marriage connections face such challenges.

Women's legitimate rights are violated not only by marital laws, but also by other personal laws such as succession and customary laws. Daughters are still not equal heirs to ancestral rights, whether customary or of assets, under some personal law, while the Hindu Succession Act 2005 and the 2020 amendment upheld coparcener's legal right, i.e., daughters are now coparcener by birth, justifying her entitlement in the same way as sons.

Gender equality shall be ensured by a unified civil code. As a result, the concept of one-nation, one-law will benefit residents while also ensuring the goal of total social fairness. Without a doubt, it is past time to get a political agreement on UCC as soon as possible.

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