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.
The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity. When enacted the code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and others. The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all. The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
Significance Of Shah Bano Case:
Section 125(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with answers to the question as to “Who can Claim Maintenance?”
- Wife from his husband,
- Legitimate or illegitimate minor child from his father,
- Legitimate or illegitimate minor child (physical or mental abnormality) from his father, &
- Father or mother from his son or daughter.
Essentials conditions for granting maintenance include the following points:
- Sufficient means for maintenance are available (person who has to give the maintenance should have means to give the same).
- Neglect or refusal to maintain after the demand for maintenance ( if the person defaults or omits to provide maintenance or if he denies his obligation of maintaining then it amounts to neglect or refusal respectively).
- The person claiming maintenance must be unable to maintain himself/herself (only if the person is unable to maintain themselves).
- Quantum of maintenance (depends on the standard of living).
After the passing of the Hindu Code bill, the personal laws in India had two major areas of application: the common Indian citizens and the Muslim community
, whose laws were kept away from any reforms. The frequent conflict between secular and religious authorities over the issue of uniform civil code eventually decreased, until the 1985 Shah Bano case. Bano was a 73-year-old woman who sought maintenance from her husband, Muhammad Ahmad Khan. He had divorced her after 40 years of marriage by triple Talaaq
(saying “I divorce thee” three times) and denied her regular maintenance; this sort of unilateral divorce was permitted under the Muslim Personal Law. She was initially granted maintenance by the verdict of a local court in 1980. Khan, a lawyer himself, challenged this decision, taking it to the Supreme court
, saying that he had fulfilled all his obligations under Islamic law. The Supreme court ruled in her favour in 1985 under the “maintenance of wives, children and parents” provision (Section 125) of the All India Criminal Code
, which applied to all citizens irrespective of religion. It further recommended that a uniform civil code be set up. Besides her case, two other Muslim women had previously received maintenance under the Criminal code in 1979 and 1980.