UNIFORM CIVIL CODE! TO BE A REALITY??

Sajida Syed

Uniform Civil Code (UCC), is one such proposal which is capable of changing the prevailing system of personal laws in the country. UCC, if accepted can change the entire outlook of the nation by replacing the personal laws with a common civil law, that shall regulate each and every citizen. It will also bring every one under one umbrella and nobody shall be allowed to escape from the hands of law and justice under concept of personal law, religious texts and customs.  India is a secular state, which has no religion of its own, and keeping in mind this view the framers of the Constitution had made provisions for Uniform Civil Code, under Article 44, which directs the State to come up with shall be made applicable in the entire country. But, since Article 44, is a directive principle there is no compulsion for the State to abide by it. The preamble to the Constitution, declares India to be a democratic, socialist, secular, republic. And keeping in mind these principles, the nation has Indian Penal Code, which is common for all the citizens of the country, and there shall be no biasness on the grounds of the religion and customs. Thus, in the same manner, it is the need of the hour to formulate a law which shall govern all the civil matters of every citizen throughout the country. The personal laws prevailing in the country differ from religion to religion, creating different sets of rules and regulation for the community members. Also, the personal laws are filled with ample of loopholes, because there are many laws which are based on religious texts, prevailing customs etc. which have not changed with time and thus, create a hindrance with the growth of their own society and people. The advent of UCC has the power to bring a revolution in the country by giving the nation a base to decide issues merely on the grounds of equity and natural justice. UCC can in the real sense bring equality in the governance of the country.

However, apart from these plus points, the major difficulty in adopting a UCC lies in the diverse culture of the country, being a secular country India, gives to its citizen the right to follow and practice the religion of their choice. The constitution has provision within it, which talks about establishment of educational institutions based on linguistic and religion minority. Thus, before adopting and implementing UCC, it is essential to create awareness and acceptance in the minds of people, because UCC shall overcome all the personal and religious laws. Thus, there are people, who are of the view that, UCC is contradicting the concept fundamental rights as it is capable of taking away the right to enjoy religion. The conflict or debate on UCC still continues, and amidst this never ending debate, the Law Commission which his headed by Justice BS Chauhan has received draft presentation of a ‘progressive uniform civil code’. The main highlights of this draft is that it focuses on the concept of live-in-relationships along with homosexuality, it also talks about phasing out discrimination on the grounds of gender. It also aims to bring males, females and trans-genders at par with each other in terms of marriage, divorce, adoption, custody of child, inheritance. The said draft was formulated by advocate Dushyant and was eventually signed by many people belonging to various fields as for instance, Gul Panag (actress), Bezwada Wilson (social activist and Magsaysay award winner), TM Krishna (artist), Nilanjana Roy (journalist and critic) etc. This draft also gathered support from Soli Sorabjee, the former attorney General of the country and a former jurist, stated that the recommendations of the draft proposal needs to be visionary and progressive in nature. He further said that the draft is worthy enough to be considered by the Law Commission. The main purpose of the draft is to uphold the secular character of the nation, and this cannot be achieved until and unless, the obstacles created by personal laws are totally eliminated. The draft also provides that all the marriages within the territory of the country should be compulsorily registered irrespective of the personal law under which it was solemnized. Apart from registration it also takes into consideration the practice of non-heterosexual marriages, which are disallowed by religions and customs and thus, they find no recognition under personal laws.  Provisions have also been made for the protection of the couples of heterosexual marriages, and the Registrar of the particular area has been vested with the discretionary power in terms of such marriages. With respect to live-in-relationships the draft has taken into consideration the acceptance of this concept by the Apex Judicial Body, but it bars a person from entering into two such partnerships simultaneously, as for instance, a person whose first marriage is still subsisting under the Hindu Marriage Act, cannot opt for a live-in-relationship at the same time, he can do so only after the dissolution of his first marriage. It also aims to widened the scope of adoption, by permitting married couples or live-in couples to adopt children irrespective of their sexual orientation, and acknowledges the best interest of the child.  It also touches on the matter of triple talaq, by specifically disallowing any non- judicial decree to have any legal existence. It seeks to eliminate the discriminations prevailing in matters of inheritance also, especially in the Muslim Law where a female is only entitled half the share of what a male receives. The draft also mentions that personal laws with respect to Christians, Hindus and Parsis are codified, whereas, the Muslim Personal law along with tribal and advasi laws are uncodified in nature. Finally, the draft concludes whether codified or uncodified, personal laws are discriminatory in nature.

Thus, there is a need to reform the current system of civil laws, but while doing so, it should be taken into consideration that, the identity of a new India, lies in its plurality of democracy. And any new reform which is brought about should not steal the true essence of democracy.

 

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