UCC is a proposal in India to formulate and implement secular personal laws of citizens which apply to all citizens equally regardless of their religion. Currently, personal laws of various communities are governed by their religious scriptures. These personal laws are different from public laws and include marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance.
Meanwhile, Article 25-28 of the Indian Constitution guarantees religious freedom to Indian citizens and allows religious groups to maintain their own affairs, Article 44 of the constitution expects the Indian state to apply directive principles and common law for all Indian citizens while formulating national policies.
The law discriminated against women by depriving them of inheritance, remarriage, and divorce. Their condition, especially that of Hindu widows and daughters, was poor due to this and other prevalent outlawing such customs.
Universal Civil Code (UCC) aims to replace various laws which are applicable to various respective communities that are inconsistent with each other in the present scenario. These laws include the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Indian Christian Marriages Act, Indian Divorce Act, Parsi Marriage Act, and Divorce Act. Meanwhile few laws like Sharia (Islamic Laws) are not codified and solely based upon their religious scriptures.
The Proposals in UCC include monogamy, equal rights for son and daughter over the inheritance of paternal property, and gender and religion-neutral laws in regards of will charity, divinity, guardianship, and sharing of custody.
The problem with UCC is its diverse implications and concerning secularism in the country. The major problems for implementing it are the country’s diversity and religious laws, which not only differ sect-wise, but also by community, caste, and region.
Indian society in the pre-independence era had many other considerations like socio-economic status, Jati and gotra, etc. in the case of marriages. While the Hindu code bills wiped out all such practices in Hindu, Jains, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Christian communities, some conservative sections of these societies had been demanding amendments to their Marriage Acts. Critics of UCC continue to oppose it as a threat to religious freedom. They consider the abolition of religious laws to be against secularism.
Goa is the only state in India with a uniform civil code to date. The Goa Family Law is the set of civil laws, originally the Portuguese Civil Code continued to be implemented after its annexation in 1961. Sikhs and Buddhists objected to the wording of Article 25 which terms them as Hindus with personal laws being applied to them. However, the same article also guarantees the right of members of the Sikh faith to bear a Kirpan.
Why is should be implemented?
Its mention in Article 44 of the Constitution, the need for strengthening the unity and integrity of the country, the rejection of different laws for different communities, the importance for gender equality, and reforming the archaic personal laws of Muslims—which allow unilateral divorce and polygamy.