Uniform Civil Code - An Overview


Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code - An Overview 

A uniform civil code is a set of laws that would govern personal matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, and succession for all citizens of India, regardless of their religion, caste, or tribe. It would replace the existing personal laws that are based on different religious scriptures and customs. The idea of a uniform civil code is enshrined in Article 44 of the Constitution of India, which is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. However, these principles are not enforceable by courts and are only meant to guide the government in making policies.

The debate over the uniform civil code has been going on for decades in India, with various arguments for and against it. Some of the arguments in favour of the uniform civil code are:

·         It would promote national integration and secularism by reducing the influence of religion on civil matters.

·         It would ensure gender justice and equality by removing discriminatory and oppressive practices against women in some personal laws.

·         It would simplify the legal system and reduce litigation by having one common law for all citizens.

·         It would reflect the changing social realities and aspirations of modern India.

Some of the arguments against the uniform civil code are:

·         It would violate the fundamental right to freedom of religion and conscience guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

·         It would impose a majoritarian and homogenous view of culture and identity on diverse and pluralistic communities.

·         It would ignore the historical and cultural specificities and sensitivities of different personal laws.

·         It would create social unrest and communal disharmony by interfering with deeply held beliefs and practices.

The issue of the uniform civil code has been raised by various political parties, social groups, legal experts, and judicial bodies over the years. Some landmark cases related to the uniform civil code are:

·         The Shah Bano case (1985), where the Supreme Court upheld the right of a Muslim woman to claim maintenance from her divorced husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is a secular law. The court also urged the government to implement the uniform civil code as soon as possible.

·         The Sarla Mudgal case (1995), where the Supreme Court held that a Hindu man cannot convert to Islam and marry another woman without dissolving his first marriage under Hindu law. The court also reiterated the need for a uniform civil code to prevent such fraud and injustices.

·         The John Vallamattom case (2003), where the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Indian Succession Act that discriminated against Christians in matters of testamentary disposition. The court also observed that a common civil code would help the cause of national integration.


The UCC has been a topic of discussion in various courts, commissions, committees, and forums in India. Some of the recent developments are:

·         In 2019, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to frame a UCC for all citizens. The petition claimed that a UCC would promote national integration and gender justice.

·         In 2020, the Law Commission of India issued a public notice inviting suggestions from various stakeholders on the feasibility and desirability of a UCC. The notice stated that the objective was to harmonize various cultural practices with a common set of principles that are just, fair, and equitable.

·         In 2021, the Congress Parliamentary Committee chaired by Sonia Gandhi met to deliberate its stand on the UCC issue, which is likely to be a key poll plank of the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

·         In 2021, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who is also an ally of the BJP, claimed that the UCC in its present form is against the idea of India. He said that his party, the National People’s Party (NPP), would oppose any move to impose a UCC that does not respect the diversity and autonomy of various communities.

The current status of the uniform civil code is that it is still a matter of debate and discussion in India. The 22nd Law Commission recently issued a public notice inviting opinions and suggestions from various stakeholders on the subject. The commission has also prepared a questionnaire covering various aspects of personal laws to elicit responses from the public. The deadline for submitting responses is July 14, 2023.


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