Analyzing Universal Civil Code for India

“One law will address confusion over many laws but it will make the system simpler.”

Every time the word uniform civil code comes in our daily lives, the first word comes in our mind is triple talaq. Not many people know that Uniform civil code applies to the all minority religions in India i.e. Muslims, Christians, Parsee. The first proposal of uniform civil code came into the picture during colonial rule of British-Raj India. When Britishers were unable to handle conflict in any religious matters but in terms of Sati they made strict laws to abolish this practice. Further to manage India appropriately Britishers thought it is better to make a uniform civil code for all the citizens of India. As there will be fewer complications for everyone.This idea failed because of the high religious power in India plus the majority i.e. Hindu religious leaders hated getting compared with other minority religions. So Britishers raised their hands and continued with the same procedure as before.

The second glimpse came after independence where Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Ambedkar proposed 4 bills for Hindu personal laws which became legal after heated debates and discussion. They finally formed –Hindu Marriage Act, Succession Act, Minority and Guardianship Act and Adoptions and Maintenance Act. Yet there was no discussion for minorities’ laws.

Wake up call for India happened during shah bano case in 1985 where BJP party played a major hand by intervening and challenging the minorities’ laws and Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Finally the verdict came for shah bano under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides a relief of maintenance to the wife, children and parents, provided they are unable to maintain themselves but the supreme court also suggested the need of uniform civil code to avoid the chaos in future cases.

Article 44 of the Indian constitution states that Uniform civil code for the citizens, The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. But it is challenged by Article 37 clearly states that uniform civil code is need in some manner but “the court shall not enforce it”, It is a state matter and It is the one which needs to take responsibility for this uniformity. This article 44 comes under directive principles of state policy due to which implementation is just a far option

The religious laws which are also called as custom laws comes under article 25–28 which provides secularism and religious matter respect to individual religion, sex, caste and choice. These articles come beneath fundamental rights which state is bound to accept and follow it. Due to which it is difficult for the judiciary to provide appropriate verdict in terms of religious matters.

However the stereotype mindset for uniform civil code is that it revolves around marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance. Nobody knows what the uniform civil code means or has defined meaningfullywith due respect. So the current scenario shows us the clutter picture of the idea.

To know more about religious views of the minorities. I had a conversation with a liberal Islam follower Mr. Wasim were I got to know why minorities are against of uniform civil code .The interpretation of Quran over the years have changed due to which Islam followers no longer understand what is the essence and effects of Quran in their daily lives and also the illiteracy rate amongst minorities are high. As they are uneducated their thinking is rigid due to which patriarchal society still exists in high proportion and women are unaware about their rights. For example in terms of talaq everyone knows that in the presence of Allah if a male pronounce three times talaq to his wife. He still gets three chances to improve his decision whereas if woman pronounce “Khula” once in front of the husband their marriage is off. Her family is the one who takes decision for their marriage by mending ways with husband and his family. In this situation the presence of Allahmatters the most with the person consciousness but the question which arises is when minorities gets married by pronouncing the respective word from the scriptures, with the presence of Allah and two witness plus documentation then why do they pronounce talaq only in the presence of Allah, without documentation?

To make sense in the society evidence is a better way which proves the consent from both the parties and also it creates less ethnocentric mind for the minorities from an individual perceptive. Moreover marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance cases will come under the purview of Indian penal code and they will be recorded for prove.

Sarla Mudgal versus union of India case again raised the question of uniform civil code as religious laws questioned a person’s belief on marriage and her status in the society. One of the main key which uniform civil code tries to focuses on is Women’s rights and gender equality. People who work for minorities section, NGO’s and women’s rights organization believes that with the uniform civil code in the country, there will be less violation against women plus gender equality will come into practice efficiently. The effect of this view can only come into place if there is a social transformation within the people of different religions. This change for uniformity can only happened if there is a co-operation between political and religious leaders of different communities.

Well the curiosity of understand religious laws started rising in India on June 2005 were Imrana who is Muslim was raped by her father-in-law and the religious leader verdict came for the father-in-law were he needs to get married to Imrana and she unwillingly has to give up on her current marriage. This shows us that even staying in secular state justice is only for the Hindus and Christians, what if there was a uniform civil code she would have got her justice under the secular state.

Islamic countries like Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, etc have refined their Muslim laws in 70's which states to abolish Polygamy plus people who live in USA, UK, Australia and other parts in Europe have accepted civil laws for the respective countries which allow them to practice their religion. It is only in India were minorities don’t want to refine their religious laws according to the state’s law. This is problematic in nature as it still promotes inequality and exploitation of women in every subject.

“If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say break the law”-Henry David Thoreau.

The idea of Uniform civil code will provide an individual religion to get the same respect and dignity which is accomplished in a secular state. Only the difference will be that there will be one law for everyone in every matter without discriminating an individual from which ever caste, creed, religion and sex he or she belongs to. The verdict will be according to the Indian laws not Religious one.

Well I believe one law in which different religion come under same umbrella will help every solving inter-caste marriage issues.Also the main essence of secular state will be come alive. The practice of basic human rights exploitation will be abolished in minorities. In the end it will promote for national development without violating Article 25 but minorities still will come under minorities’ laws for the protection purpose.