[Answered] Discuss the need of bringing uniformity in civil laws. Critically analyse the the consequences of bringing such uniformity.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Why Uniform civil code is needed in India? Positive and negative consequences of bringing uniformity in civil laws.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Uniformity in civil laws or a Uniform civil code is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set governing every citizen. Article 44 of Indian constitution mention UCC and left on state for its implementation.

Why Uniform civil code is needed in India?

  1. Gender Inequality: Various aspects of prevailing marriage personal laws discriminates against women, like Sharia law allows a Muslim male to solemnise up to four marriages without taking consent of his existing wives. This blanket immunity enables husbands from other communities to desert their wives by converting to Islam and escape from the legal proceedings.
  2. Societal progress: A contemporary India is a totally new society with 55% of its population is below 25 years of age. Their social attitudes and aspirations are shaped by universal and global principles of equality, humanity, and modernity. Their view of shedding identity on the basis of any religion has to be given a serious consideration so as to utilise their full potential towards nation building.
  3. National Integration: The Supreme Court of India has opined that UCC can serve as an instrument for national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law which have conflicting ideologies.

Positive benefits of bringing uniformity in civil laws:

  1. Equality: India is a secular democracy. A common civil and personal law in India would ensure equality among all its citizens, irrespective of their religion, class, caste, gender etc. Thus UCC will lead to equality in society.
  2. Will reduce gender discrimination: Personal laws of almost all religions are discriminatory towards women. Men are usually granted upper status in personal laws. Uniform civil code will bring both men and women at par and would reduce atrocities against women. It will promote gender equality and welfare of women.
  3. Promote justice: UCC can promote justice by incorporating similar laws for all citizens. It will help in providing justice to the women. Also it will lead to social justice by promoting equality in the Indian society among various sects.
  4. Simplification of legal matters: UCC will simplify the cumbersome legal matters governed by personal laws. In the absence of UCC judges interpret various provisions like maintenance in case of Muslim women according to their prejudices and opinion. The introduction of UCC will prevent such interference and promote Uniform provisions.
  5. National integration: Indian citizens are equal before the court of law as the criminal laws and other civil laws (except personal laws) are same for all. With the implementation of Uniform Civil Code, all citizen will share the same set of personal laws. There will be no scope of politicisation of issues of the discrimination or concessions or special privileges enjoyed by a particular community on the basis of their religious personal laws.
  6. Societal reforms: Existing personal laws are mainly based on the patriarchal notions of the society in all religions. UCC is will remove such patriarchal notions by destroying their sanctity.

Negative consequences of bringing uniformity in civil laws:

  1. Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India is ignorant of the diversity of its cultures, customs, traditions, castes, ethnicity, languages and religious ideologies. From north to south and from east to west, each state in India has a different culture and a different outlook towards life.
  2. The Hindu Marriage Act was passed in 1955 and later, other acts related to issues of succession and maintenance were also passed. Some might believe that these enactments brought uniformity in law for all sections of Hindus.
  3. UCC will be detrimental to communal harmony of India and will be against the ethos of religious freedom.
  4. UCC is disadvantageous for all minorities, and also for a good number of Hindu castes. It will only create conflicts and disputes among them.
  5. Article 44 is just one of the several other directive principles of state policy, so it carries only a persuasive force for the legislature. Moreover, Articles 25, 26 and 29 which deal with religious and cultural freedom are the fundamental rights and both conflict with each other. In such conflicting situation, fundamental rights are mandated to prevail constitutionality.
  6. A common code anywhere can harm national integration, for true integration in a democracy stands for tolerance and coexistence of various communities Wrenching the laws and culture that are beloved to a community and deriving it to adopt alien laws can hardly create goodwill or harmony between communities.
  7. The diversities of family law of different communities, the tribal’s own laws and customs, the belief of the people about the source of law and religion are intermixed and interwoven. This has prompted people to oppose the Uniform Civil Code from its very inception.

UCC is sometimes perceived as the imposition of the Hindu code and procedures, and this adds to its opposition from the minorities. Some people also argue that it would lead to a loss of the culture and the identity of the minorities in the Indian society. The better course would be to bring about small reforms, correcting some inherent irrationality in some of the personal laws, and make them suitable for modern times. The focus should also be on removing disparities between different religions. This might lay the foundation of implementing a UCC at a later date.

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