Uniform Civil Law : Important Topic For Group Discussion In SSB
Uniform Civil Code is one of the most important topics for group discussion in SSB. Hence it is very important for aspirants to be aware of this issue. The issue of the Uniform Civil Code has emerged into India’s political discourse recently mainly because many Muslim women, affected adversely by the personal laws, have begun knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court to uphold their fundamental rights to equality and liberty in keeping with constitutional provisions. The Union law ministry has recently asked the law commission to examine the matters in relation to the implementation of the uniform civil code.
Article 29 and 30 of our Constitution guarantee all minorities the right to conserve their culture and script ,and run their own educational institutions. It was implied that minorities could follow their religions and abide by their customs and traditions. Presently in India ,believers of various religions can marry, adopt, inherit property and divorce under their own customs as defined under the ‘The Right to Religion’, as per the Fundamental Rights enshrined by the Constitution of India. However, there is an anomaly exists in this Articles which makes it a controversial issue in India. At certain cross roads, these Articles intercept another Fundamental Right of the citizens of India, ie; Right to Equality before the Laws of the Land. Hence Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy says,” The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code through out the territory of India. However, Directive Principles are not justciable or mandatory ,only a guideline.
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MAJOR CONFLICTS BETWEEN CIVIL LAWS AND PERSONAL LAWS
Both Laws contradict on issues of Marriage, Adoption, Inheritance of Property and importantly in Divorce. The eye of the storm is about the Special Marriage Act,1954.The Act allows people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party, to marry or divorce under it. The only exception is Jammu & Kashmir. A marriage performed under the Special marriage act is a civil contract and, accordingly, does not involve rites and ceremonial requirements.
IS IT A HINDU- MUSLIM ISSUE AS WIDELY DISCUSSED?
Uniform Civil Code is a volatile issue in India, which disturbs the delicate fibres of religious harmony. It encompasses all minorities in India. Parsis, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, apart from ,of course, Hindus and Muslims ,have their own civil codes. While the Muslim Personal Law is yet to be codified (because of deep divisions within the religion),Christian and Parsi Codes were specified before Independence. The Personal Laws of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and others were codified in the 1950s.
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CODIFICATION OF MUSLIM PERSONAL LAW
There have been attempts to codify Muslim Personal Law. The much hyped, Shah Bano case, rocked the nation in independent India. In 1986,the Supreme Court approved of, extra Alimony for Shah Bano, an Indore -based 62 year old divorcee, from her former husband. The Muslim orthodoxy objected to the verdict, the alimony being imposed on the husband apart from the Mehr fixed under Nikaah(Marriage),and to the way in which it was being done, since the verdict undermined the Shariat Law of Islam. Subsequent to the chaos followed by this Supreme Court ruling ,the Indian Government, under the Prime Minister ship of Rajeev Gandhi ,in spite of its two third majority in parliament, succumbed to the pressure. Parliament enacted a law diluting the ruling of Supreme Court ,via the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce ) Act,1986.While this Act was subsequently changed by the courts ,the Shah Bano case fuelled the debate over communities with separate Personal Laws ,the BJP calling it Muslim “appeasement”.
PURPOSE OF UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
The relevance of a Uniform Civil Code is profoundly debatable among all communities, because no nation can mature or progress as a secular country, if few citizens are denied justice under the grab of religion. India, being the largest democracy in the World, it is prudent, if the religious leaders of all communities join hands amicably and iron out all these anomalies at the earliest.
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