Uniform Civil Code and its way ahead

Uniform Civil Code
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Overview

The Indian civilization is the oldest civilization in the world and Hindus are the majority in it. This fact is true, while it is also true that the Indian civilization had been invaded by a different set of people and the core values have been diluting since then. Now, though the fact that India’s majority population are still Hindus, but other religions have been prospering over here which displays the true spirit of a secular country. India is a secular country as provided by its constitution and it upholds its sanctity in that aspect. Each and every religion in India is respected and given an equal position and say. No religion or community is superior to the other.

Reason of conflict between personal laws

While the fact that secularism is what is appreciated and expected from each country to be followed, it has its baggage tied with it. Secularism is not as easy to be practiced as it seems through various guidelines and norms. When each and every religion is given an equal say and it is said that the state is free from any kind of religious interference, the fact is hard to accept. Also when all religions are at an equal stand, their beliefs and personal laws would definitely present a conflict at some point. The same has been seen in India time and again.

We have had these conflicts since the inception of personal laws. Judiciary and Legislation have tried their best to keep the personal and family laws at par with each other, and have succeeded to a great extent, but it is not established that the conflict won’t arise again or the fact that Uniform Civil Code is no longer needed. The constitution in itself directs the state to secure the Uniform Civil Code over the territory of India in article 44. The reason why it hasn’t been executed or challenged (though it may have been challenged a number of times but would be in vain) is that the Directives given to the state are not enforceable in the court of law.

Why Uniform Civil Code?

First of all the creation of personal laws itself involved a lot of politics. There were no personal laws per se before the 19th century. The colonial rule brought this concept with them. Before them, people were just following their traditions with no such codification. They enforced traditional Koranic Shariat laws in India for Muslims. Hindus didn’t have any such personal law till then. Also, this law faced a lot of criticism as it talked about dividing the assets among Muslim men, and they in that course found it very difficult to keep their families united. While the Hindus believed in a joint family system and this made it difficult for them to get their inherited property easily and acquire individual property rights. 

Both the communities were looking for an easy way out and a means to fulfill their selfish desires. And by the early twentieth century both the communities had their influential men in the law-making bodies. The main problem that arose with the Hindu community was their internal conflict and regional divisions. Hindus were already divided among themselves into Mitakshara and Dayabhaga schools of thought. Though a majority of Hindus followed Mitakshara school the regional divisions made their practices and propagation different from each other.


There were several other issues with different laws and societies. After efforts from leaders and united organizations, personal laws for both the communities were formed, the Muslim Laws were formed before the independence while the Hindu laws were passed and legislated after the independence. Since then there have been several instances where both the communities have had a conflict of interests in the personal laws. The Muslim community says that the preservation of their personal laws is essential for the operation of secularism in India, while the Hindu community says that India’s preservation of Muslim laws undermines our secularism.

The instances of conflicts have been seen in the cases of marriage (Muslim law allows polygamy while Hindu law prohibits it), divorce (there are different ways of giving divorce in both the laws), maintenance, and inheritance.

The above observations show the need for Uniform Civil Code in the country and how can it prevent many conflicts and clash of interests at various points. This has been a point of discussion various times by different jurists and learned men, but hasn’t reached any conclusion so far.

Conclusion

The application of the Uniform Civil Code, however, would not be an easy task with a very diverse population with their own practices and customs, but the code would further reduce the number of conflicts that arise from time to time. It is a one-time solution for several clashes that arise in between the personal laws. What can be done is, a code specifying general rules regarding marriage, divorce, and inheritance should be laid down. 

The rules should give threshold requirements and norms for marriage, divorce, and inheritance, and further each community should be allowed to follow their practices to carry that forward. For example, in marriage, the threshold norms could be the consent of spouses, no dowry or monetary exchange, no remarriage (when one spouse is living), and registration of marriage. After fulfilling these norms the spouses can carry out the marriage in any way they deem fit, be it in their traditional way or court marriage. The spouses could belong to any religion and any caste.

In this way, the responsibility of the state remains till the checking of threshold requirements and the rest is according to the autonomy of the spouses. This gives them freedom of choosing the type of marriage they want and how they want without any boundation of religion or caste. This would clear up thousands of doubts and conflicts that happen in a marriage and its related laws.

That though the conflict between personal laws has been existent for a long time there is still a possible way out of all this that is through the Uniform Civil Code. Through this, we would be providing a better future to our coming generations by providing them a world with less religious conflicts and a government that could focus more on real development.

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