PM Modi pushes for Uniform Civil Code: How it can impact different communities

Source: The post is based on the article “PM Modi pushes for Uniform Civil Code: How it can impact different communities” published in “The Indian Express” on 28th June 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Indian Polity – Directive Principles of State Policy

News: After the Law Commission invited views on the UCC (Uniform Civil Code), PM Modi has pushed for it.

What is the UCC?

Currently, India’s personal laws are complex and varied with each religious community following its own specific regulations. UCC is the idea of having a common code of personal laws for people of all religions.

UCC also finds mention in Article 44 of the Constitution under Part IV dealing with DPSPs (Directive Principles of State Policy).

What was the debate in the Constituent Assembly?

Several Muslim members of the assembly suggested adopting a common civil code that would apply with prior consent. However, Dr. Ambedkar strongly opposed the suggestion.

Mohamad Ismail proposed that the personal law of a community should not be changed without the prior approval of the community.

Naziruddin Ahmad pointed out that every religious community would be affected by the UCC as each community has its own religious beliefs and practices.

B Pocker Sahib Bahadur brought attention to the diversity of personal laws and KM Munshi stated that impact of the UCC is not just limited to minorities, but it affects the majority community too.

Finally, Dr. Ambedkar assured that the UCC would not be enforced upon the people and underlined the possibility that a future Parliament could apply UCC in a purely voluntary manner.

What have the Law Commissions said?

The 21st Law Commission issued a consultation paper on the issue. The paper titled “Reforms of Family law” argued for reforming family laws across religions through amendments and codification to limit ambiguity in interpretation and application.

Since over three years has passed since the paper’s publication, the 22nd Law Commission considered it necessary to start fresh deliberations over the subject in the light of its importance, relevance and various court orders.

What has the Supreme Court said?

In a number of rulings, the Supreme Court has supported the introduction of UCC.

In the landmark Shah Bano case of 1985, the Supreme Court upheld the right of a Muslim woman to seek alimony.

In Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India (1995), the Supreme Court again stressed the need for UCC.

In October 2022, the Centre, responding to a plea before the Supreme Court for uniformity in personal laws, said that it is under constitutional obligation to introduce a UCC and the matter would be placed before the 22nd Law Commission.

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