UNIFORM CIVIL CODE: WHAT’S THE DEBATE ALL ABOUT?

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) involves the enactment of one law for India, which could be applicable to all or any or any religious communities in matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and other civil matters. The civil code comes under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavor to secure a uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles within the Indian Constitution was to affect the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonies diverse cultural groups across the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable except for the instant it should remain voluntary, and thus the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a section of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. it had been incorporated within the Constitution as an aspect that might be fulfilled when the state would be able to accept it and therefore the social acceptance to the UCC could be made.

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. When enacted the code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at the present on the idea of religious beliefs just like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, et al. . The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage , inheritance, succession, adoptions and other civil matters making them one for all. an equivalent civil law will then be applicable to all or any citizens regardless of their faith.

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All Hindus of the country aren’t governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians. Not only British legal traditions, even those of the Portuguese and also the French remain operative in some parts. In the Northeast, there are over 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 being codified, protects many custom practices.

Article 25 gives an individual’s fundamental right to religion; Article 26(b) upholds and grants the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”; Article 29 defines the right to conservation of distinctive culture. In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the difficulty of putting Uniform Civil Code within the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote.

Some members sought to immunize Muslim Personal Law from state regulation.
The spine of controversy revolving around UCC has been secularism and therefore the freedom of faith enumerated within the Constitution of India. The preamble of the Constitution states that India may be a “secular democratic republic” this suggests that there’s no State religion. A secular State shall not discriminate against anyone on the bottom of faith . A State is merely concerned with the relation between man and man. it’s not concerned with the relation of man with God. It doesn’t mean allowing all religions to be practiced. It means religion shouldn’t interfere with the mundane lifetime of a private .

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In S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, as per Justice Jeevan Reddy, it had been held that religion is that the matter of individual faith and can’t be mixed with secular activities. Secular activities are often regulated by the State by enacting a law.

In India, there exist an idea of “positive secularism” as distinguished from doctrine of secularism accepted by America and a few European states i.e. there’s a wall of separation between religion and State. In India, positive secularism separates spiritualism with individual faith. the rationale is that America and thus the eu countries went through the stages of renaissance, reformation and enlightenment and thus they’re going to enact a law stating that State shall not interfere with religion. On the contrary, India has not skilled these stages and thus the responsibility lies on the State to interfere within the matters of faith so on remove the impediments within the governance of the State.

Articles 25 and 26 guarantee the right to freedom of religion. Article 25 guarantees to each person the freedom of conscience and therefore the right to profess, practice and propagate religion. But this right is subject to public order, morality and health and to the opposite provisions of Part III of the Constitution. Article 25 also empowers the State to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or other secular activity, which can be related to religious practice and also to supply for welfare and reforms. The protection of Articles 25 and 26 isn’t limited to matters of doctrine of belief. It extends to acts exhausted pursuance of religion and, therefore, contains a guarantee for ritual and observations, ceremonies and modes of worship, which are the integral parts of religion.

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UCC isn’t against secularism or won’t violate Article 25 and 26. Article 44 is predicated on the concept that there’s no necessary connection between religion and personal law in a very civilised society. Marriage, succession and like matters are of secular nature and, therefore, law can regulate them. No religion permits deliberate distortion. The UCC won’t and shall not end in interference of one’s religious beliefs relating, mainly to maintenance, succession and inheritance. this suggests that under the UCC a Hindu won’t be compelled to perform a nikah or a Muslim be forced to hold out saptapadi. But in matters of inheritance, right to property, maintenance and succession, there’ll be a standard law.

Author: ADITYA SINGH,
Amity Law School/ BBA-LLB(H)

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