After achieving success with regards to multiple points enumerated in its election manifesto (Abrogation and annulment of Article 370 and Article 35A of Constitution of India, 1950; evaluate all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya; Passing of the Citizen Amendment Bill in both the houses and implementing them, although implementation of the same is scheduled to begin after the completion of the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive); BJP is rumoured to be all set to bring in the much awaited Uniform Civil Code.
A Uniform Civil Code refers to attribution of same set of civil laws to govern people belonging to different religions and regions. This does away with the right of citizens to be governed under and by various personal laws based on their respective religion and ethnicity. Uniform Civil Code aims at ensuring equality in the long run. Goa is the sole Indian state which has a uniform civil code. The Goa Family Law(Common Family Law), is the common set of civil laws, originally the Portuguese Civil Code that have continued to be implemented after its annexation in the year 1961.
So many may ask, “Can the Government implement or bring anything of such sort?”. The answer is a big YES! The Constitution of India under the head of Directive Principles of State Policy empowers them in this regard by stating that it is the duty of the state to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. Article 44 of The Constitution of India states, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”.
Not just the Constitution of India but the Supreme Court has also directed the Parliament on multiple occassions to frame a Uniform Civil Code. First instance of the same dates back to the year 1985.
In the landmark case of Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum usually known as the Shah Bano Case. In this case, Shah Bano moved to Supreme Court for the purpose of seeking maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 when her husband divorced her after 40 years of their marriage vide the practice of triple talaq and denied her of the regular maintenance. The Apex Court ruled in favour of Shah Bano by applying section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and stated that the concerned provision is applicable to all the citizens irrespective of their religion. Then Chief Justice, Y.V Chandrachud, observed that a Common Civil Code(Uniform Civil Code) would be highly helpful to the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law. And so, the court directed Parliament to frame a Uniform Civil Code. On the other hand, Rajiv Gandhi Government was not satisfied from the court decision; instead of supporting it, the government enacted the act named Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to nullify the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano Case and allowed the Muslim Personal Law to prevail in a matter of divorce. In this act, it was mentioned that Muslim woman has the right with regards to maintenance only for a period of three months after the divorce for i.e. iddat and then shifted the burden of her maintenance to her relatives or Wakf Board.
Sarla Mudgal Case is the second instance where the Supreme Court has directed the Parliament or the Goverment to form a Uniform Civil Code. In this case, the question was whether a Hindu husband, married under the Hindu law, by embracing Islam, solemnize the second marriage? This issue was scrutinized by the Supreme Court at length and it settled the ambiguity hovering around the rights, duties and obligations of people who change religion to defeat the law. The court held that a change of religion does not permit or entitle a person to defeat the very provisions of law and perform bigamy.
In the case of John Vallamattom v. Union of India, Justice V.V. Khare stated, “Article 44 provides that the State shall endeavour to secure for all citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. It is a matter of great regrets that Article 44 of the Constitution has not been given effect to. Parliament is still to step in for framing a common civil code in the country. A Common Civil Code will help the cause of national integration by removing the contradictions based on ideologies”. This was the third incidence where the Supreme Court had asked the Parliament to frame a common civil code.
It is necessary that the law is seperated from the realms of religion. With the enactment of a Uniform Civil Code, secularism will be strengthened; much of the present day separation and divisiveness between various religious groups in the country will disappear, and it will help the cause of making India a much more cohesive and integrated nation.
The campaign for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code should draw the support of all progressive and right thinking citizens of the country. It is the need of NEW INDIA. Political consensus is also required to implement the Uniform Civil Code.
To conclude, Uniform Civil Code can be regarded as a mandatory step required to give effect to the step of integration of a country as diversified as India by bringing all the communities under a common umbrella.