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Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
What is UCC?
◆The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption.
◆The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lies down that the state shall Endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
◆Article 44 of the Indian Constitution states that “the State shall Endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.” The desirability of a uniform civil code is consistent with human rights and the principles of equality, fairness and justice.
Implications of Uniform Civil Code on Personal Laws:
▪️Protection to Vulnerable Section of Society:
●The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervor through unity.
✔️Simplification of Laws:
●The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all. The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
✔️Adhering to Ideal of Secularism:
◆Secularism is the objective enshrined in the Preamble; a secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
●If a UCC is enacted, all personal laws will cease to exist. It will do away with gender biases in existing laws.
✔️Exceptions in Central Family Laws:
◆The preliminary sections in all central family law Acts enacted by Parliament since Independence declare that they will apply to “the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.”
◆A Second exception was added in 1968 in all these Acts, pronouncing that “nothing herein contained shall apply to the Reno cants in the Union Territory of Pondicherry.”
◆A third exception, none of these Acts applies in Goa, Daman and Diu.
◆A fourth exception, relating to the north-eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram, emanates from Articles 371A and 371G of the Constitution, decreeing that no parliamentary legislation will replace the customary law and religion-based system for its administration.
●The demand for a uniform civil code has been framed in the context of communal politics.
●A large section of society sees it as major it Aryanism under the garb of social reform.
●Article 25 of Indian constitution that seeks to preserve the freedom to practice and propagate any religion gets into conflict with the concepts of equality enshrined under Article 14 of Indian Constitution.
◆Need of the hour is the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and can be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution.
〰️Collaborative Approach: The government and society will have to work hard to build trust, but more
Importantly, make common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives.
〰️Brick by Brick Approach: Rather than an omnibus approach, the government could bring separate aspects such as marriage, adoption, succession and maintenance into a uniform civil code in stages.
〰️Gender-Sensitive Approach: The government would also do well to complement the overdue move towards a uniform civil code with a comprehensive review of several other laws in the context of gender justice.
〰️Pan-India Approach: Bringing Jammu and Kashmir into the country’s mainstream of family laws is an exercise that needs to be undertaken also for Goa, Daman and Diu, Pondicherry, Nagaland and Mizoram.