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Analysis of Sansad TV Discussion: ”Hijab Row & Demand for UCC”

Analysis of Sansad TV Discussion:
”Hijab Row & Demand for UCC”

”GS 2: Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy, Issues Related to Women”

Introduction

  • The dispute that arose regarding the hijab, has again intensified the debate on the Uniform Civil Code issue.
  • Chief Minister of Uttarakhand has already declared to bring UCC as soon as possible if it wins the assembly election.
  • Under Article 44 of the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the states to implement the Uniform Civil Code
  • Petitions have also been filed in the Supreme Court from time to time on this issue.
  • The Supreme Court had suggested for the first time in April 1985 regarding the creation of a Uniform Civil Code.
  • Goa is the only state in the country where the Uniform Civil Code is in force since 1961.

What is UCC?

  • The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution.
  • 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 issue has been at the centre of political narrative and debate for over a century.

Importance of Article 44

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 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.

Origin of Uniform Civil Code

  • The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.
  • An increase in legislation dealing with personal issues at the far end of British rule forced the government to form the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941.
  • The task of the Hindu Law Committee was to examine the question of the necessity of common Hindu laws. The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women.
  • The 1937 Act was reviewed and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.

Shah Bano case

  • The Supreme Court of India has always called for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in the nation.
  • With this case, debate on UCC started for providing equal protection of laws to everyone despite their religious belief.
  • A resident of Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, Shah Bano was refused payment of alimony by her ex-husband after divorce.
  • The Supreme Court, in its judgement in favour of Shah Bano, said, “It is a matter of regret that Article 44 of our Constitution has remained a dead letter… A common Civil Code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies.”

What is the Hindu Code Bill?

  • The draft of the Rau Committee report was submitted to a select committee chaired by B R Ambedkar that came up for discussion in 1951 after the adoption of the Constitution.
  • While discussions continued, the Hindu Code Bill lapsed and was resubmitted in 1952.
  • The bill was then adopted in 1956 as the Hindu Succession Act to amend and codify the law relating to intestate or unwilled succession, among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.
  • The Act reformed the Hindu personal law and gave women greater property rights, and ownership. It gave women property rights in their father’s estate.
  • The general rules of succession under the Act 1956 for a male who dies intestate is that heirs in Class I succeed in preference to heirs in other classes.
  • An amendment to the Act in the year 2005 added more descendants elevating females to Class I heirs. The daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son.

Difference between civil laws and criminal laws

  • While the criminal laws in India are uniform and applicable equally on all, no matter what their religious beliefs are, the civil laws are influenced by faith.
  • Swayed by religious texts, the personal laws which come into effect in civil cases have always been implemented according to constitutional norms.

What will Uniform Civil Code do?

  • 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.

Conclusion

Implementing Uniform Civil Code in the country at the earliest will boost equal rights for everyone. It’ll enhance social harmony, boost gender justice, strengthen women empowerment & help protect the extraordinary cultural-spiritual identity & environment of the country.

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