Let's get to know UCC
UCC is the talk of the time in India. A Uniform Civil Code is conceptualized as a set of laws that govern personal matters, including marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession for all citizens regardless of their religion, sex or creed. It aims to replace the existing diverse personal laws that vary based on religious affiliations. It also contemplates of putting to an end evil, immoral and illogical practices in human relations.
Before we discuss let us discuss present scenario with regard to our constitution and existing laws. Article 25 – 28 of Indian Constitution guarantees religious freedom to Indian citizens and allows religious groups to maintain their own affairs. On the other hand Article 44 of the Constitution expects the Indian State to apply Directive Principles and common laws for all Indian Citizens while formulating national policies.
Religion is a personal matter of an individual and pertains to the inner conscience of the individual, his equations with the God and his faith in the power of prayer. Religious affairs include among other things maintenance of religious buildings and ways to worship. But when it comes to regulate relations in the society, State laws comes into picture. Human relations need to be regulated by laws. These laws may be codified or un-codified but they need to be applied uniformly to maintain harmony in the society.
Personal Laws were first framed during the British Raj. This is the reason the Directive Principles of State Policy directs the State to frame Common laws for its citizens. UCC emerged as crucial topic of interest in Indian Politics following the Shah Bano Case in 1985. The debate arose when the question of making certain laws applicable to all citizens without abridging the fundamental right of right to practice religious functions. The debate then focused on the Muslim Personal Law, which is fundamentally based on the Sharia law permitting unilateral divorce and polygamy.
The then Congress Govt. at the Center amended the constitution to nullify the Apex Court decision. Since then the issue of UCC haunts the minds of the enlightened ones. At present Goa is the only State where UCC exists in the form of Goa Civil Code and is running smoothly in the State. However, fundamentalists of different religious groups are opposed to the concept of UCC. Other political parties having an eye in their respective vote bank hold divergent views as it is being advocated by Bhartiya Janta Party.
The Central Govt. has asked the Law Commission to scrutinize the issue and seek views of the stake holders. This has created a fervor in political and social life of India. News channels are busy in telecasting views of social, religious and political leaders. This has further raised the communal temperature of the country. A group of people are demanding a population policy in the country. The ever growing population is eating away all the developmental efforts of the country, they argue. The UCC may also contain this aspect as well.
Is the Govt. really serious about sailing with UCC? It is perhaps the first time that the Law Commission has invited views on the subject. When different personal laws were enacted views from the people were not demanded. Why? Similarly when Waqf Board was constituted no opinions were sought from the people. Why are views being sought at this time? Does the Govt. simply wants to raise the communal pitch for forthcoming elections? As far merits and demerits of UCC are concerned, the balance goes in favor of UCC.
Muslim theologians may argue differently, but the fact remains that the position of women in Muslim society is precarious and deplorable. Polygamy and Talaq at whims cannot be justified by any logic. Similarly, Halala is a trauma for a lady. The UCC is going to end all such evil concepts and bad practices. Interestingly, personal laws does not exist in any civilized country. There are uniform laws that govern respective countries. The UCC will give a feeling of oneness to its people which will go a long way in creating a strong and harmonious nation. The word secularism also demands UCC. If we are secular then the country must have uniformity of laws.