In Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami of BJP had announced that the ‘Uniform Civil Code’ will be implemented as soon as he takes over as the Chief Minister. Despite the provisions of this Act being made in Article 44 of the Constitution of India and despite the fact that the ‘Republic’ of India has completed 72 years, all-party Governments have not shown the courage to legislate the UCC. As a result, no State in India has the UCC except Goa (Because former Portuguese laws are still in force in Goa). Even so, there are quite a few objections to the UCC. Let us look at some aspects.
1. What is the ‘Uniform Civil Code’ ?
The Uniform Civil Code intends to enforce the same laws across the country going beyond religion, caste, community, etc. If the UCC is implemented, the same laws will be applicable on social issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption. It will not have an independent Court or a separate legal system based on religion. Article 44 of the Indian Constitution directs the State to enact UCC for all religions at the appropriate time. The point to make clear here is that the UCC can only bring equality in public life, not in personal life.
2. The role of UCC supporters
A. As of now, different laws of different classifications increase the burden on the judiciary. This burden will be lightened and the judicial process will be facilitated. At present, people of all faiths go to Courts for marriage, divorce, adoption and partition of property based on their religious laws.
B. The UCC will give equal treatment to all citizens and will improve the current politics of taking advantage of religions for the ballot box.
C. Gender discrimination in the name of religious laws in some sects will be eliminated. In particular, 4 marriages are allowed under the Muslim law. Four marriages affect the marital life of a married woman.
3. Objections of opponents to the UCC and its clarification
A. Opponents say that it is like applying the Hindu laws to people of all religions.
Clarification : In fact, it would be inappropriate for anyone to raise such an objection unless a draft of the UCC comes up. While no draft has been announced yet, it is being touted as ‘anti-Muslim’.
B. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution gives people of any religion the freedom and protection to propagate their religion. Therefore, due to the UCC, freedom of religion is bound to come under attack in some religions.
Clarification : This objection is also baseless. The UCC is concerned with public life, not with regards to individual freedom of religion. Marriage, divorce, inheritance, partition of property to relatives, adoption in a family, etc. are not only personal but also involve other people.
4. Will the UCC be obeyed ?
The Hindu community in India is law abiding. For the Hindu community, 5 Acts are in existence – 1. Hindu Marriage Act 1955, 2. Hindu Succession Act 1956, 3. Hindu Property Management Act 1956, 4. Hindu Minorities and Guardianship Act 1956 and 5. Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956.
All these laws have been followed by the Hindu community, but what about other religions ? Do they follow any law that governs their religion or their ideologies ? Despite the passage of the Triple Talaq Act in 2019, there are at least 10 Triple Talaqs per month in Uttar Pradesh alone, according to official figures. In 2020, the Central Government passed the ‘The Code Of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2020; however, it caused so much commotion and rioting that 2 years after the law was finally enacted, the Union Home Ministry has not yet shown the courage to issue a Notification for its implementation.
The example of Hijabi students boycotting exams is fresh after the Court verdict regarding the ban on Hijab. So, even if the UCC is implemented, the question is – will it be really obeyed !
– Mr Chetan Rajhans (National Spokesperson, Sanatan Sanstha)