India is a land of a variety of cultures, religions and customs, the only country in the world which has succeeded in embedding such diversity in it even after 66 years of its unification. This could have only been possible by its principle of unity in Diversity. But this unity has long been overrated as still now people are divided on the name of caste and religion. Every time a step forward is taken towards the uniformity of the country, hundreds and thousands of voices arise from different religious sects complaining about the infringement of their right of freely professing, practicing and propagating their religion. But Article 25, which ensures this fundamental aspect to them do not cover the secular matters attached to it (Article 25(2) (a)). The proposal of the Uniform Civil Code is to cover the same secular matters regulating the citizen’s life like marriage, inheritance, adoption, guardianship etc. Hence, Uniform Civil Code does not take the place of religion or violates it, its only motive is to prevent oppression of a specific gender or community in the name of the religion. As far as the effectiveness of Uniform Civil Code in the country is concerned, we can take the example of Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli where, by its common family laws imposed by the Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, all communities are treated alike regarding the secular matters. If it can be so successfully implemented in these parts of the country, witnessing stability for so many years, then why not the whole of India?
Uniform Civil Code other than establishing uniformity in the country, will also ensure gender equality and strength in the country. Because if we look at different personal laws in the country, most of their provisions are discriminated against the women, giving more power and authority to the male in the name of religion. Taking the example of Shariat Act which was made during the British era in 1937 is still in existence where the Muslim husband is allowed polygamy and can give talaq to his wife any time by just saying it three times! Inheritance laws too are much favored towards the male members of the family. These all provisions of the personal laws directly violates Article 14 and Article 21 of the constitution, making India as a highly gender biased country. But still, different religious sects want to preserve this in the name of religion and god. It is the high time to remove the cloud of irrational views regarding Uniform Civil Code and stop this gender-based discrimination in the name of religion. Other then discrimination, these personal laws have also a huge disparity between them. For example, if a Christian couple wants to take divorce, they have to be separated for 2 years before taking it but in the case of a Hindu couple, it is only 1 year. So for the same divorce, Christians have to be separated for 2 years, just because a long time ago a law has been made for them by their ancestors regarding this and of course because they are not Hindu.
Judiciary played a very important role in preserving the secular nature of our country wherever there was a need to protect it in the fight of the secularism and conservatism. For example in the Shah Bano case in 1985 it granted maintenance to the wife even after the iddat period which was not allowed by the Muslim personal law. This created a lot of controversy in the Muslim community which led to the passing of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which nullified the judgment. Though later in its continuous practise to maintain uniformity, in the Daniel latifi case, the court struck a balance between the Shah Bano case and the 1986 Act, talking about the reasonable and fair maintenance. The judiciary has many a time expressed the need for the establishment of a Uniform Civil Code in the country which is also prescribed as a Directive principle for state policy under Article 44 of the constitution, but due to its non-enforceability in nature, it has not gained much weight. In a recent judgment of the Supreme Court regarding guardianship of a Christian unwed woman in 2015, the court ruled “it would be opposite for us to underscore that our DPSPs envision the existence of a Uniform Civil Code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation”.
So the time has come to continue the step by step implementation of the Uniform civil code in the country, the 1st step towards which has already been taken in 1956 by the passing of the Hindu Code Bill. That time too much revolt was seen by the Hindu pundits and the extremists, but now seeing the country after 66 years after its implementation, we can say that it has taken us a long way ahead in establishing our identity as a unified nation and to prosper beyond the clichés of religion and caste. The passage of this bill further puts us in a compulsion to have a uniform civil code in the country because if 75% of the population is already being governed by a common code, why the rest 15% should be left? We have enough identified ourselves different from each other, now it’s the time to sing in a single voice of nationality and to submerge different identity into national identity. Patriotism should be the only attribute. Hence, implementation of the uniform civil code in India is essential to make the nation stronger and secular so that it can strive towards excellence and eminence without any restraint, whatsoever it may be, of religion or caste.