Updated: Feb 7
The Uniform Civil Code refers to replace the personal laws based on the sacred writings and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen.
Under Article 44 of Directive Principles of State Policy states that it is the duty of the state to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.
Goa is the only state which has a common family law and 1954 Special Marriage Act allows any citizen to marry outside the realm of any special religious personal law.
The British Government in 1840 on the basis of Lex Loci report had framed Uniform laws for crimes, evidences and contract but personal laws of Hindus and Muslims are left by them.
Constituent Assembly was set up to frame Indian Constitution in 1946 which consists of both types of members: those who wanted to reform the society by adopting Uniform Civil Code and other was representatives who perpetuate personal laws.
Article 44 states that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India“. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.
The uniform civil code became a moment of conflict in Indian politics in 1985 during the Shah Bano case. As, Supreme Court had held that a Muslim woman should get alimony from her ex-spouse. In the context of that the court also said that uniform personal laws were first framed during the British government, mainly for Hindu and Muslim citizens. So,the court observed that Common Civil Code would help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law. And also, directed Parliament to frame a uniform civil code. Thus, the case made uniform civil code a politicized public issue focused on identity politics by means of attacking specific religious minorities versus protecting its cultural identity.
Sarla Mudgal Case - This was the second time when the Supreme Court again directed the government to frame a uniform civil code.
Recently ,What Supreme Court Bench Said On Uniform Civil Code ?
The Supreme Court Of India shown displeasure on the failure of the governments to take notice of article 44 of the constitution despite encouragement of the Supreme Court in the cases of Shah Bano and Sarla Mudgal to put a law into effect by official proclamation of Uniform Civil Code for the entire country ,After all, it being 63 years since the codification of Hindu law in 1956.
The bench also cited Goa as a "shining example" where the Uniform Civil Code was in vogue irrespective of the religion of its citizens. It narrated how the concept of joint matrimonial property ensured equal division in cases of divorce.