Ever since its formation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has had three core pledges. The abrogation of Article 370, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). With the two boxes already checked, all eyes are now on the Modi-Shah duo for one final push which would result in completing the saffron party's promise to its core voters.
What is the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is basically the formulation of one law related to personal issues such as marriage, divorce, succession, and adoption for all citizens of the country, irrespective of their religion or faith. It comes under Article 44 of the Constitution. However, as per different religions, different laws are currently in place for such matters in the country. There is the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Indian Christian Marriages Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. On the other hand, the Muslim personal laws are based on their religious texts.
Reportedly, many other countries including France, United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), Australia, Germany, etc. already have similar laws in place which ensures the principle of one country, one law. Meanwhile, in India many are demanding the same and it seems to be only a matter of time that a bill gets introducted in the Parliament by the ruling party.
Delhi High Court backs Uniform Civil Code:
Favouring the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the Delhi High Court has said the Indian youth need not be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws in relation to marriage and divorce.
The modern Indian society was "gradually becoming homogenous, the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste are slowly dissipating" and thus UCC "ought not to remain a mere hope", Justice Prathiba M Singh stated in an order dated July 7. "The youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes or religions who solemnise their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws, especially in relation to marriage and divorce," the order said.
While referring to several decisions of the Supreme court on the need for UCC, including the historical Shah Bano case of 1985, the high court said: "The hope expressed in Article 44 of the Constitution that the State shall secure for its citizens Uniform Civil Code ought not to remain a mere hope." In the Shah Bano case, the apex court had said that a common civil code would help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws having conflicting ideologies. It had also observed that the State was charged with the duty of securing UCC for the citizens of the country.
The Delhi HC observed that the need for UCC was reiterated from time to time by the Supreme Court, however, "it is unclear as to what steps have been taken in this regard till date".
Why did the Delhi HC made this observation?
The court's observation came while hearing a plea seeking the applicability of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in respect of the parties who belong to the Meena community in view of the exclusion under Section 2(2) of the HMA, 1955.
The couple got married on 24th June 2012. A petition seeking divorce under Section 13-1(ia) of the HMA, 1955 was filed by the man on 2nd December 2015. The woman prayed for rejection of the divorce petition, on the ground that the provisions of the HMA, 1955 do not apply to the parties concerned as they are members of a notified Scheduled Tribe in Rajasthan, and hence the HMA, 1955 would not be applicable to the case of the said parties in view of Section 2(2) of the HMA, 1955.
The application was decided by the Family Court and the divorce petition was dismissed by holding that the provisions of the HMA, 1955 do not extend to the Meena community, which is a notified Scheduled Tribe. The man challenged the trial court order dated 28th November 2020 in the High Court.
The High Court allowed his appeal to challenge the trial court order and set aside trial court decisions.
"The appeal is allowed. The impugned judgment is not sustainable and is accordingly set aside. The trial court is directed to proceed with the adjudication of the petition under 13-1(a) of the HMA, 1955 on merits and render a decision within six months," the high court said.
UCC is not possible: Law Commission Chairman
In December 2017, Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan had said that the UCC is not possible and not even an option. "Personal Laws can never be done away with as they have constitutional protection," Justice Chauhan had told News18.
"Constitution itself has given so many exemptions to so many people like the tribals, etc. There are exemptions even in Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code… UCC is not a solution and there cannot be a composite Act. You cannot say forget the Constitution and do away with the sixth schedule. This would make people question their accession to the Indian Union on the understanding that they will be respected,” said Justice Chauhan.
UCC can't be implemented: Congress
In October 2016, former Law Minister and Congress leader Veerappa Moily had said that it will be difficult to implement UCC in a country like India where various communities and groups are governed by personal laws. "In a country of this nature, implementation of Uniform Civil Code is next to impossible," he said.
UCC should be implemented in India: Shiv Sena
Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut had said that "for how long the Muslims will stay away from the national mainstream. The Muslim Law Board should support the UCC as it will help the community, especially the women to come out of misery". Our party's stand is 'one code, one law' and it should be viewed as a national issue rather than religious one, he had added. If the BJP brings tables such a law, Raut had said his party will take a decision about it.
(With input from agencies)