Uniform Civil Code under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution
Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is stated in our Constitution under Article 44 of Directive Principles of State Policy. It expresses that “it is the duty of the state to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.”
It is the common set of governing rules for all citizens of India which alludes to supplant the personal laws (based on religious scriptures and customs). These laws are notable for public law and cover marriage, dissolution of marriage, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance. In fact, Goa has a common family law, hence being the solitary Indian state to have a uniform civil code and the 1954 Special Marriage Act permits any citizen to marry outside the domain of any special religious personal law.
Origin of Uniform Civil Code
The British Government in 1840 based on the Lex Loci report had outlined Uniform laws for crimes, evidence, and contract yet personal laws of Hindus and Muslims are left by them somewhere purposefully. On the other hand, British Indian Judiciary accommodated the use of Hindu, Muslim, and English law by British Judges. Additionally, in those days, reformers were raising voices to outline laws identified with women against the discrimination done by them fundamentally under religious customs like Sati, so forth.
Constituent Assembly was set up to outline our Constitution in 1946 in Independent India which comprises of the two sorts of members the individuals who needed to change the society by embracing the Uniform Civil Code like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and other was basically Muslim representatives who propagate personal laws. Likewise, the defenders of the Uniform Civil Code were restricted by the minority communities in the Constituent Assembly. Therefore, just one line is included in the Constitution under Article 44 in Part IV of DPSP (Directive Principles of State Policy).
Why Article 44 of the Indian Constitution is Important?
The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonize diverse cultural groups across the country. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, while figuring the Constitution had said that a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is alluring yet for the second it ought to stay willful and subsequently the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a piece of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. It was consolidated in the Constitution as a perspective that would be satisfied when the country would be prepared to acknowledge it and the social acknowledgment to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) could be made.
Ambedkar in his discourse in the Constituent Assembly had stated that “No one need be apprehensive that if the State has the power, the State will immediately proceed to execute…that power in a manner may be found to be objectionable by the Muslims or by the Christians or by any other community. I think it would be a mad government if it did so.”
Objective of Uniform Civil Code
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) intends to give protection to weak sections as conceived by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while likewise advancing nationalistic enthusiasm through solidarity. At the point when established the code will attempt to improve laws that are isolated at present based on religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and others. The code will streamline the mind-boggling laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all. The similar civil law will then be pertinent to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
Mohammad Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum (Shah Bano Case) [AIR 1985 SC 945]
In 1985, Shah Bano approached Supreme Court for looking for maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) when her husband divorced her following 40 years of marriage by giving triple talaq and denied her regular maintenance. The Supreme Court gave the decision in favor of Shah Bano by applying section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and it is applied to all citizens regardless of religion. At that time, Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud saw that a Common Civil Code would help the reason for national integration by eliminating disparate loyalties to law. Thus, the court guided Parliament to outline a UCC.
Then again, Rajiv Gandhi Government was not fulfilled by the court decision; rather than supporting it, the government authorized the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to invalidate the Supreme Court judgment in Shah Bano Case and let the Muslim Personal Law wins in a divorce matter. In this act, it was referenced that Muslim woman has ideal for maintenance only for three months after the divorce i.e. Iddat and afterward moved her maintenance to her family members or Wakf Board.
Sarla Mudgal Case vs. Union of India (Sarla Mudgal Case) [AIR 1995 SC 1531]
This is the second case in which the Supreme Court again guided the government under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. In this case, the question was whether a Hindu husband, married under the Hindu law, by grasping Islam can solemnize the subsequent marriage. The Supreme Court held that embracing Islam for a subsequent marriage is the maltreatment of Personal laws. Further said that Hindu marriage can be disintegrated under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 i.e. simply by converting itself into Islam and marry again does not disintegrate the marriage under Hindu Marriage Law and subsequently will be an offense under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code.
John Vallamattom vs. Union of India [(2003) 6 SCC 611]
The Priest from Kerala, John Vallamatton documented a writ petition in the year 1997 expressing that Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act was unfair against the Christians as it forces unreasonable limitations on their donation of property for the religious or charitable purpose by will. The bench containing Chief Justice of India V.V. Khare, Justice S.B Sinha, and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan struck down the Section proclaiming it to be unconstitutional. Further, Khare expressed that “Article 44 provides that the State shall endeavor to secure for all citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. It is a matter of great regrets that Article 44 of the Constitution has not been given effect to. Parliament is still to step in for framing a common civil code in the country. A Common Civil Code will help the cause of national integration by removing the contradictions based on ideologies”.
For an ideal state, Uniform Civil Code (UCC) would be an ideal defend of citizen’s privileges. Its authorization will be progressive legislation. With evolving times, the need has emerged for having a Common Civil Code for all citizens, regardless of religion, guaranteeing that their fundamental and Constitutional rights are ensured. Even Secularism and National Integrity can also be fortified by introducing Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
Author: Ayush Patria,
Sangam University, Bhilwara (Rajasthan); 3rd Year; Law Student