The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India. The issue has been at the center of political narrative and debate for over a century and a priority agenda for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been pushing for the legislation in Parliament. The saffron party was the first to promise the implementation of UCC if it comes to power and the issue was part of its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto and the topic was included in the party’s Lok Sabha election manifesto for 2019.
IMPORTANCE OF ARTICLE 44 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable but for the moment it should remain voluntary, and thus the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a part of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. It was incorporated in the Constitution as an aspect that would be fulfilled when the nation would be ready to accept it and the social acceptance to the UCC could be made.
In his speech to the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar remarked, “No one has to be concerned that if the state has the authority, it would instantly exercise that power in a manner that may be deemed disagreeable by Muslims, Christians, or any other community. If it did, I believe it would be a crazy government.”
ORIGINS OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
The UCC has its origins in colonial India, when the British government issued a report in 1835 emphasising the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, and specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept out of such codification.
The government formed the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941 as a result of an increase in laws dealing with personal matters after the end of British rule. The Hindu Law Committee’s mission was to look into whether common Hindu laws were necessary.According to Vedas, the group suggested a codified Hindu rule that would grant women equal rights. The 1937 Act was examined, and the committee suggested that Hindus have a civil law of marriage and succession.
CHANGES THAT WOULD BE CREATED BY THE UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
The UCC strives to safeguard disadvantaged groups, like women and religious minorities, as envisioned by Ambedkar, while simultaneously fostering nationalist ardour via unity. When passed, the code will simplify rules that are now divided based on religious views, such as the Hindu code bill, Sharia law, and others. The code will make the complicated regulations governing marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions easier to understand and apply to everyone. All citizens, regardless of their religion, shall be subject to the same civil law.