Q) What advantages does a possible Uniform Civil Code(UCC) offers for India? What are the challenges in its implementation? (150 Words)
GS 1: Society, GS2: Constitution
Introduction: 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. In the recent times there has been a demand to fulfill the constitutional mandate under article 44, to implement a Uniform Civil code (UCC). Recently, Delhi High court also directed the Ministry of Land Justice to look into the implementation of the UCC, the request for which had been made in the Shah Bano judgment in 1985 itself.
Advantages of Uniform Civil Code
• Simplification of Civil Laws: Making it easier to register marriages or exit form a marriage, both for the applicants and the Lawyers. Currently there are many personal laws in India like Hindu code bill, Mulsim personal law, Special marriage act, Christian divorce act etc.
• Equality before Law: It would bring, both genders, all religions and all geographies at par with each other’s.
• Right to marry: It is a fundamental right under Article 21 according to Puttaswamy Judgment. But a person under special marriage act is restricted to marry, as it allows people to file objections to marriage. A UCC might change this scenario.
• Saving vulnerable sections from unjustified codes:
Prevention of Child marriage: A UCC can eliminate child marriage by force. Currently Child marriage act abolishes only those child marriages which are against the child's wish.
Gender Justice: In terms of removal of polygamy, ensuring property rights etc. Further, alimony rights and widow's claim to inheritance shall be strengthened.
Social Justice: It would make it easier for people from different caste and religions to register a marriage.
• For a secular society: It will de-link law from religion which is a very desirable objective to achieve in a secular and socialist pattern of society.
• Fulfilling constitutional dream: Moreover, it fulfills the constitutional mandates under Article 44 of Directive Principles of State Policy.
• Possibility of LGBT marriage: This is impossible in the personal laws.
• Loosening of Patriarchal Control: which is responsible for strict observance of caste based discrimination and gender discrimination.
• Reduce Vote Bank politics: There have been examples of politics been played in many cases like Shah Bano case etc. where the Supreme court order was turned by a legislation.
Challenges associated with UCC
• Freedom of Religion: Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion. Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”.
• Risk to diversity in the name of unity: Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture. However it may go against various cultural practices, wherein there can be for example, practice of prohibited relationships amongst cousins, many tribal cultures allow marriage even amongst first cousins.
• Religious opposition: The orthodox sections of all religions would object to a progressive laws that takes away patriarchal control over marriage. There have been opposition to banning of triple talaq by muslims, removal of practice of 'Sapindas' by Hindus. And in no religion same sex marriage is allowed.
• False perceptions: that the UCC would subject minorities to the Hindu civil code, undermining their rights. However the truth is that UCC would be different from all personal laws.
• Lack of Political will: The political parties have not gathered enough will to implement uniform civil code in India even after 70 years of independence.
• Legal Challenge: Bringing all these institutions of marriage would be a difficult task.
• Administrative challenge: Registration of all marriages with a new system would require capacity enhancement.
Noting these challenges, in 2018, a report by the Law Commission of India stated that the Uniform Civil Code is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage” in the country. The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
Conclusion: However, the Sabrimala case has made it clear that Religious and cultural rights are subject to Public order, health and Morality. If these rights come under conflict with Article 14 and 15(right to equality and right against discrimination), then they become void. Thus, the only challenge in application in the implementation of UCC is political will and administrative challenges, which can be dealt with dialogue and increasing spending on public institutions.
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