Uniform Civil Code (UCC) deals with civil law which is a codification of laws relating to private affairs of a citizen of the country, and Civil Code is a codification of private laws relating to family, property, etc. Civil law is about disputes between citizens concerning private matters, and not against society as seen in criminal law.
Recently the Delhi High Court favoured the formation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India and asked the Center to take necessary steps in the matter. Emphasizing the need for a civil code ‘equal for all in view of the changing paradigms, the court observed that modern Indian society is gradually becoming “homogeneous” removing the “traditional barriers” of religion, community, and caste.
The hope expressed in article 44 of the constitution that the state shall secure for its citizen uniform civil code ought not to remain a mere hope, Delhi high.
What is Uniform Civil Code?
the uniform civil code brings all the citizens of the country to be treated under one law, such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, and succession for all citizens of the country, irrespective of their religion. Article 44 states state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
These laws include Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Indian Christian Marriage Act, Indian Divorce Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act etc.
There are also Muslim personal laws, but they are not codified and are based on Islamic texts. However, some aspects of the texts are recognized through laws such as the Shariat Application Act and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act.
The BJP government was the first to promise the implementation of UCC if it comes to power under its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto.
Is religion treated differently under the law?
In Hinduism, personal laws are realized for inheritance, succession, marriage, adoption, upbringing, sons’ obligations to pay their father’s debts, division of family property, maintenance, guardianship, and charitable donations.
Hindu Personal Law can be found in:
- ‘Shruti’ which includes all the four Vedas, namely Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda.
- The ‘smritis’ which entrust the teachings and sayings of the rishis and sages of Hinduism and are commentaries written by many historical writers about the ‘smriti’. Smritis are of three types, namely: the Samhitas of Manu, Yajnavalkya and Narada.
Sources of Muslim Personal Law
Whereas in Islam, they cover inheritance, wills, succession, inheritance, marriage, waqf, dowry, guardianship, divorce, gifts, and before taking roots from the Quran.
- The Holy Quran
- The sayings and teachings of Prophet Muhammad were carefully preserved in tradition and passed down from generation to generation by holy men.
- Ijma, the agreement of Muslim scholars, companions and disciples of the Prophet Muhammad, on matters of religion.
- Qiyas, an analysis done using the Qur’an, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and Ijma when none of them apply to a particular case.
- Digest and Commentaries on Muslim Law written by ancient Muslim scholars. The most famous include the Hedaya (composed in the 12th century) and the Fatwa Alamgiri, compiled under the instructions of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgiri.
- Not all Hindus in the country aren’t governed under the same law.
- Not all Muslims of the country aren’t governed under the same law.
- Not all Christians in the country aren’t governed under the same law
In the Northeast, over 210+ communities have their own customary laws.
What exactly will the UCC do?
UCC was introduced in the constitution by Dr BR Ambedkar to save those who are discriminated against and provide a sense of integration in the country. However, at the time, he, along with other parliaments, held that the bill should be introduced at a better time. It aims to unify personal laws that currently differ such as the Hindu Bill codified division and static practices for all religions.
Now let’s take a look at what constitutes acceptance under Article 2 of the UCC. Like proposals, the UCC treats acceptance very liberally. A party may accept an offer through proper channels in any manner and circumstances. Let’s say Polly operates a website and sells her pillows online. Parker contacts Polly and offers to buy a purple pillow for $20. If Polly promptly sends the pillow to Parker, Polly accepts Parker’s offer. (Is India ready)
The need for a Uniform Civil Code dates back to the British era, highlighting that such a bill would pave the way for greater acceptance for marginalized groups in India and provide a greater sense of unity to diverse children. Will do The current system of separate laws allows for many legal complications to arise in inter-religious and inter-caste marriages. Moreover, the caste division in the Hindu community would be greatly reduced. As noted by various judges, the marriage is performed under Hindu customs and thus the Marriage Acts do not apply to cats within the religion. (Is India ready)
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