We can co-exist together legally

Vishwasmat    24-Jun-2023
Total Views |
The Law Commission of India on June 14 appealed to the people of India to submit their comments on the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the following 30 days. Since then, the burning issue of the UCC has been into the crucial talks of the socio-political domain in the country.
Uniform Civil Code
There are some fundamental agendas of every political party and they stick to it regardless of the narratives in the domain. For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ever since its inception, the issue of construction of the grand Ram Mandir, abrogation of the article 370 in J&K and the implementation of the UCC have been the key points of its founding policies. The construction of the magnificent Ram Mandir is in the progress and the Article 370 in J&K has been a thing of the past and the benefits of it in the state is evident. The UCC matter is yet to be dealt with, however, the BJP in its 2019 election manifesto had assured to fulfil its promise.
In its manifesto, the BJP had stated that, “Article 44 of the Constitution of India enshrines the Uniform Civil Code in the directive principles of the policy of the Government. Gender equality cannot be achieved in India until there is a uniform civil code protecting the rights of women. The BJP reiterates its stand for a UCC based on the best traditions and blending them with modern times.”
It has become a pattern of the Opposition as well as self-proclaimed pseudo secular liberals to oppose everything proposed by the BJP. It is important for everyone to understand what exactly the implementation of the UCC means, what the constitution of India has to say about it and above all the Supreme Court’s opinion on this matter to be understood is absolutely indispensable.
For India as a nation, ever since its history has been written, read and understood, it has consistently identified itself as nation with respective democratic uniformity for all its citizens in almost all of its legal affairs. It doesn’t discriminate with respect to one’s religion. Criminal laws and civil laws have been made equal without any discrimination of caste, religion or creed. Different religions have different laws applicable only in limited matters such as marriage, divorce, alimony, adoption and inheritance of property. For example, a Muslim woman does not get alimony as a Hindu woman gets after divorce and others. Uniformity is something which should be treated as the fundamental principles of any democratic nation. Especially, when Uniformity only leads to justice, no one should be deprived of it. What does a Uniform Civil Code mean? It means making one law for everyone. In stead of different communities having different laws for marriage, divorce, alimony, adoption and inheritance, the UCC proposes one law across as of those pertaining to civil, crime or elections as well.
Having said so, it doesn’t imply that the rule of law for one religion has to be made a charter for everyone. It means as stated by the BJP in its manifesto, “A uniform civil law should be made based on the best traditions and in harmony with modern times.”
India being a state following a democratic form of government has invariably propagated the belief that all the religions are equal for the state with an unsaid imperative that the same is enforced through laws within the nation. The section 44 of the Indian Constitution provides the ruling government for making policies subjected to the UCC. It states that, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” The motto behind the concept was to prove that all the religions can co-exist together with the same set of laws for all in a bonhomie nature. In the process of inclusion of this section in the constitution, many members who belonged to the Muslim religion had expressed severe resentment over this and also introduced amendment bills. However, the architect of the Constitution Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, in the meeting of the constituent assembly out rightly dismissed these opinions and strongly advocated inclusion of the section 44. The speeches of those times echoing Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s support for the same are still present in the parliament archives and all those who are sceptical of the fact must look for it.
The Supreme Court as well at regular intervals have stated that the UCC must be implemented. In the 1973 Keshavananda Bharti case, the SC said that UCC is necessary for the unity and integrity of the country. Similarly, in the famous Shah Bano case of 1985 as well, the SC has highlighted its regret that the Article 44 of the UCC remained only on paper. It also held it as the responsibility of the government to implement the UCC for all citizens of the country. In the 1995 case of Sarla Mudgal v. Government of India, the Supreme Court gave a clear direction to the Central Government to implement the UCC under Article 44 of the Constitution and ordered it to submit an affidavit on the steps taken in this regard. In the case of Jose Paulo Coutinho v Maria Luisa Valentina Pereira in 2019, the Supreme Court pointed out that steps had not yet been taken to implement the UCC under
Article 44. If the above mentioned interpretations were to be scrutinised, according to the constitution and subsequently Supreme Court readings, it is clearly established that the UCC must be made a legislation. Women of different religions are subject to different laws and have different rights regarding marriage, divorce, alimony. This is nothing but inequality. The BJP has often reiterated its stance in its manifesto stating that, “Gender equality cannot be achieved in India until a UCC protecting the rights of women is enacted.” Enforcing equal civil law is vital for justice for women.
All the ill motivated self-centred political opportunists who claim that the UCC is a step against the minority community needs to be shown the righteous perspective of this law. The state of Goa is a home to a large presence of Christian community which is also minority in the country. Ever since the foundation of the state, it has UCC in force. Consequently, not only were they not deprived of this right to justice but also the state could maintain religious as well as social harmony. The nation today echoes in favour of the UCC.
At a time when India is gradually moving rapidly towards leading the world, it is important for the nation to prove that we believe in “One Law for All” regardless of the gender, religion and so on. We need to establish a precedent for our future generations that in New India for all religions we have the provisions that are in uniformity with one other. It is time for all of us to come together and dismiss the negative narrative set around the implementation of the UCC. The nefarious political opposition which is engaged in creating a negative mind-set amongst the people for electoral benefits needs to be uprooted from the very bottom of the society. We need to stand for rational and constitutional narratives. It is indeed an exigent need of an hour that
we come together and advocate for the Uniform Civil Code which will prove in front of the entire world that, “We can co-exist together Legally and Happily”.
Article published in The Daily Guardian - ePaper | WebLink