|Demand of the question Introduction. What is the Uniform Civil Code? Body. Discuss various challenges in the implementation of Uniform Civil Code in India. Conclusion. Way forward.|
Uniform civil code (UCC) is the proposal to replace the personal laws with a common law for property, marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession for all religions. Article 44 of Indian constitution mentions UCC and leaves it on the state for its implementation.
Challenges in the implementation of Uniform Civil Code:
- Diverse personal laws: The customary practices among communities vary a lot. The vast diversity of the personal laws, along with the devotion to which they are adhered to, makes uniformity of any sort very difficult to achieve. It is very tough to find a common ground between different communities.
- False perceptions: Many people still do not know what the uniform civil code really means. There are still false perceptions surrounding it, especially among the minorities, which make a rational debate on its implementation quite difficult.
- Fundamental rights violation: There is an apprehension that the uniform civil code may be in conflict with the fundamental rights of freedom of conscience of free profession, practice and propagation of religions (Article 26) and the freedom to manage religious affairs (Article 25).
- Opposition from the religious groups: This is one of the most trivial and obvious hurdles to bring up the UCC. The fundamentalism which is deep rooted in many of the religions in India doesn’t seem to vanish even in the 21st century.
- Political willpower: The government may lack the will to face the consequences of abolishing the personal laws of the major religions and to convince the people of justice and reform they want to bring to the society in order to grow better as a nation.
- Encroachment on religious freedom: Many communities, particularly minority communities perceive Uniform Civil Code as an encroachment on their rights to religious freedom. They fear that a common code will neglect their traditions and impose rules which will be mainly dictated and influenced by the majority religious communities.
- Sensitive task: Such a code, in its true spirit, must be brought about by borrowing freely from different personal laws, making gradual changes in each, issuing judicial pronouncements ensuring gender equality, and adopting expansive interpretations on marriage, maintenance, adoption, and succession by acknowledging the benefits that one community secures from the others. This task will be very demanding time and human resource wise.
1. Awareness: Major awareness efforts are needed to reform current personal law reforms which should first be initiated by the communities themselves.
2. Gradual approach: The social transformation from diverse civil code to uniformity shall be gradual and cannot happen in a day. Therefore, the government must adopt a piecemeal approach.
3. Law Commission’s recommendations: The commission stresses on initiatives to reconcile the country’s diversity with universal arguments on human rights. It recommended codification of all personal laws:
- So that the prejudices and stereotypes in all religions can be brought to light.
- They can eventually be tested against the anvil of the fundamental rights in the constitution.
- It could help arrive at certain universal principles.
- These may facilitate prioritising equality instead of the imposition of UCC.
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.