The Uniform Civil Code

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The Uniform Civil Code

The Uniform Civil Code deals with personal matters like marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance. At present in India, there are a set of different laws for people belonging to different communities. While the Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists are covered under the Hindu Civil Code, the Muslims are governed by the Shariat law. Uniform Civil Code will streamline the personal laws and adopt the progressive ones. Uniform Civil Code is in place in most modern countries of the world. Article 44 of the Constitution says the “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” It is a directive principle which is laid down in the constitution. There is a basic contradiction here. On the one hand, the constitution recognizes the continued existence of Personal Law, which is why Article 44 expects that India at some later date will have a uniform civil code. On the other hand, there exist several articles, such as 13,(Article 14) which guarantee equal rights. Since personal laws for various groups are inherently unequal, since a divorcee in Muslim law is entitled to different things than in Hindu law, therefore Article 13 (14) would seem to make personal law unconstitutional. Furthermore, Article 13 also requires non-discrimination based on "sex", whereas Muslim Personal Law favors the man in many cases, especially in the issue of divorce and in the issue of polygamy. Equality before the law would essentially mean that Muslim women could take up to four husbands. These issues remained unresolved in the constitution.

The debate over the Uniform Civil Code was kicked off by the Shah Bano case. Shah Bano’s Husband had divorced her by triple talaq. The Supreme Court agreed to pay her maintenance money after the period of iddat. This sparked protests by the orthodox Muslims, alleging that the judiciary was interfering with their personal laws. Proponents of the Uniform Civil...
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