General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Polity & Constitution) (Social Justice)
Question:- 102. “The desirability of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is consistent with the principles of equality, fairness and justice.” In the light of this statement, discuss the issues associated with implementation of UCC. Answer in 250 words.
Oct 31, 2022
Answer:-

INTRODUCTION:

Based on their religion, faith and beliefs, India has different laws for different communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption. A Uniform Civil Code would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all  communities in their personal matters. The Constitution lists the UCC among the Directive Principles of State Policy, which makes it a desirable objective under Article 44 i.e. “The state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.” Currently, Goa is the only state across India that has Uniform Civil Code.

 

LINKAGE POINT:

However, there are some issues associated with the implementation of UCC in India:

 

BODY PARAGRAPH:

 

  1. 1. Existence of pluralism in personal laws: Personal laws are fiendishly difficult to unify in a staggeringly diverse and vast country like India.
  • Even though Hindus follow a clutch of personal laws, they also recognise customs and practices of different communities in different states.
  • The Muslim personal law is also not entirely uniform – some Sunni Bohra Muslims, for example, are guided by the principles of the Hindu law in matters of inheritance and succession.
  • Not only British legal traditions, even those of the Portuguese and the French remain operative in some parts.
  • In the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws. The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram. Even reformed Hindu law, in spite of codification, protects customary practices.
  1. 2. Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters – Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
  2. 3. Plurality and diversity: While Courts have often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case. In 2018, Law Commission of India opined that the Uniform Civil Code is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage” as secularism cannot be contradictory to plurality. It only ensures peaceful co-existence of cultural differences. It is this plurality that also makes it difficult to evolve consensus on UCC.
  3. 4. Indian Secularism: The Supreme Court in T.M.A Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka reiterated that the essence of secularism in India is recognition and preservation of the different types of people, with diverse languages and different beliefs, and placing them together so as to form a whole united India. The idea of UCC might not be in consonance with the spirit of Indian secularism where multiple individual identities co-exist under the umbrella of the national identity.
  4. 5. Issue of Drafting the UCC: There is no guideline or a vision document, whether UCC be a blend of all the personal laws or a new and common law adhering to the constitutional mandate. Also, the UCC would have to answer some fundamental questions: What is the criteria for marriage and divorce? What are the processes of and consequences for adoption? What are the rights to maintenance or just division of wealth in the event of a divorce? What are the rules of inheritance of property?
  1. 6. Concerns of Minorities: The are impediments in adoption of the UCC when it comes to addressing Minority concerns, such as separatism, conservatism and misconceived notions about personal laws. Most minorities feel a sense of insecurity, complete loss of identity and marginalization within Indian society and imposition of a majoritarian outlook on minority religions which would heighten if UCC comes into play.

 

CONCLUSION:

The UCC cannot work like a magic bullet. All the god change would depend on the thoughtfulness that goes behind its drafting and its implementation. What makes a good law is that it is just, clear and constitutional.