Uniform Civil Code

  • GS Paper – 2, Fundamental Rights Directive Principles of State Policy, Issues Related to Women

Why in News

  • If the BJP is re-elected to power in Uttarakhand, the state’s chief minister has pledged a Uniform civil code for the state.
  • An examination of what the Constitution says about the Uniform Civil Code, prior attempts to change personal laws, and the way forward.

Some of the most important aspects of the UCC are as follows:

  • It would establish a single law for the entire country, which would apply to all faith communities in personal concerns such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and so on.
  • Article 44 of the Constitution states that the state shall make every effort to ensure that all people have access to a UCC across the country’s territory.
  • Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy is one of the principles (DPSP).
  • Even though the DPSP, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (meaning not enforceable by any court), the principles set forth therein are vital in the governance of the United Nations.

The current status of uniform codes in India is as follows:

  • In most civil proceedings, Indian laws follow a standard system, as evidenced by the Indian Contract Act 1872, the Civil Procedure Code, the Transfer of Property Act 1882, the Partnership Act 1932, and the Evidence Act, 1872, among others.
  • States, on the other hand, have made hundreds of revisions, and as a result, even under these secular civil rules, there is variance in certain areas.
  • Following a recent court decision, numerous states have declined to be bound by the universal Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.


  • During colonial India, the British government submitted a report in 1835 urging uniformity in the codification of Indian law in the areas of crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside of such codification. This was the beginning of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • At the tail end of British rule, an increase in laws dealing with personal matters compelled the government to organise the B N Rau Committee in 1941, which codified Hindu law into a codified system.
  • As a result of these proposals, a statute known as the Hindu Succession Act was enacted in 1956 to reform and codify the legislation dealing to intestate or unwilled succession in Hinduism as well as Buddhism, Jains, and Sikhs.

Personal laws, on the other hand, were divided into three categories: Muslim, Christian, and Parsi.

  • In order to achieve consistency, the courts have frequently said in their rulings that the government should strive toward a Uniform Civil Code.
  • The decision in the Shah Bano case (1985) is well-known in the legal community.
  • Sarla Mudgal (1995) was another case that dealt with the subject of bigamy and the disagreement between several personal laws that existed at the time on marriage-related issues.
  • When it argues in its submission that practises such as triple talaq and polygamy have a negative impact on the rights of women to live lives with respect and dignity, the Centre raises the question of whether the constitutional protection afforded religious practises should be extended to practises that are in violation of fundamental rights.

The Uniform Civil Code and Personal Laws:

  • Protection of Vulnerable Portions of Society: The UCC aspires to give protection to vulnerable sections of society, like as women and religious minorities, as intended by Ambedkar, while also boosting nationalistic fervour via unity.
  • Regulations will be simplified as a result of the code, which will make the complicated laws governing marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, and adoptions more accessible to everyone. The same civil law will subsequently be applied to all people, regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliations.
  • Respect for the Ideal of Secularism: Secularism is the goal expressed in the Preamble of the Constitution, and a secular republic requires a common law for all people rather than varied standards based on religious customs.
  • A UCC would eliminate all personal laws, which would be a victory for women’s equality. Existing laws that discriminate against women will be repealed.


  • Exceptions to the rule of law in Central Family


  • Prior to Independence, the preambles of all central family law Acts adopted by Parliament said that they would apply across India, with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir, and that they would be effective immediately.
  • In 1968, a second exemption was added to all of these Acts, which stated that “nothing herein included shall apply to the Renoncants in the Union Territory of Pondicherry.” This was the first exception to be introduced.
  • In a third instance, none of these Acts are applicable in the states of Goa, Daman, and Diu.
  • There is a fourth exception, which pertains to the north-eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram, and it is derived from Articles 371A and 371G of the Constitution, which state that no parliamentary legislation will be substituted for customary law and a religion-based system of administration in these states.

Communal Politics:

  • The need for a common civil code has been couched in terms of communal politics, which is an important consideration.
  • Majoritarianism in the guise of social change, according to a huge segment of society, is being practised.
  • Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which strives to protect the right to practise and propagate any religion, comes into conflict with the ideas of equality established in Article 14 of the Indian constitution.

The Best Way Forward

  • In order to create confidence, the government and society will need to work hard, but more significantly, they will need to find common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives.
  • Instead of adopting an all-encompassing approach, the government might include various components like as marriage, adoption, succession, and maintenance into a UCC in phases, rather than all at once.
  • The codification of all personal laws is urgently required so that biases and stereotypes in each and every one of them may be exposed and tested against the anvil of the Constitution’s fundamental rights.


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