WHAT IS THE UCC IN THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA?
UCC is part of Part IV of the Constitution which includes the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). Article 44 in DPSP states that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.
WHAT DOES INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL SAYS ABOUT UNIFORM CIVIL CODE?
The Constitution of India, under Article 44, one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, states that the state shall endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for its citizens. However, the framers of the Constitution left it to the discretion of the government to implement a UCC, recognizing the sensitivity and complexity of the issue. Over the years, various governments have discussed and debated the implement.
WHY UCC is SUCH A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC IN INDIA?
The debate surrounding the Uniform Civil Code in India is multifaceted and often polarized. Here are some of the key arguments presented by proponents and opponents of a UCC:
RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY:
The potential effect on minority populations is one of the key issues brought up by UCC critics. Personal laws are closely entwined with these cultures’ religious identities and rituals. They contend that enforcing a single civil code could weaken the special rights and safeguards enjoyed by minorities and threaten their cultural autonomy. In a diversified country like India, protecting minority rights and maintaining their distinctive practices is seen as essential.
PROTECTION OF MINORITY RIGHTS:
One of the main concerns raised by opponents of the UCC is the potential impact on minority communities. Personal laws are deeply intertwined with the religious identity and practices of these communities. They argue that imposing a common civil code may dilute the unique rights and protections enjoyed by minority groups and erode their cultural autonomy. Protecting minority rights and preserving their distinct practices is considered crucial in a pluralistic society like India.
The UCC has often become a subject of political maneuvering and posturing. Political parties and leaders have used the issue to consolidate their vote banks or appeal to their respective constituencies. The sensitive nature of religious identity and the potential impact on minority communities have made it a polarizing topic, with political calculations often taking precedence over a genuine discussion on the merits and drawback.
GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS:
Proponents of the UCC argue that implementing a uniform code would promote gender equality and women’s rights by eliminating discriminatory practices present in some religious personal laws. They believe that a common code would ensure equal rights in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and maintenance. However, opponents contend that gender justice can be achieved within the framework of existing personal laws.
Many feel a common civil code would foster national integration by promoting a sense of unity among diverse religious communities and strengthening the secular fabric of the country. While others say that the issue of a UCC is highly complex and sensitive, given the diversity of religious beliefs and customs in India.
CENTRE MAY BRING IN UCC, ‘ONE NATION, ONE ELECTION’ BILLS IN PARLIAMENT’S SPECIAL SESSION: SOURCES
Sources told India Today on Thursday that the central government would introduce the “One Nation, One Election” bill during the special session of Parliament taking place from September 18 to 22. The simultaneous holding of the general and assembly elections is a proposal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been advocating for. He contends that this action will reduce election expenses and free up time for governance.
A special session of Parliament has been convened for September 18–22, according to Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi. Five sittings will make up the session. According to sources, the Centre may also introduce the Women Reservation Bill and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) during the meeting.
The Law Commission started a new consultation process on the in June of this year.
process on the UCC by seeking views from stakeholders, including public and recognised religious organisations, on the issue. Earlier, the 21st Law Commission, the term of which ended in August 2018, examined the issue and solicited the views of all stakeholders on two occasions. The women’s reservation bill provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for 15 years.
This comes just months before the scheduled assembly elections in five states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram – later this year. The Lok Sabha election is slated to be held in the first half of next year. However, the buzz has started that the Centre may go for an early election or the assembly elections due in five states may be postponed to April-May next year.
Besides the 2024 general elections, seven states – excluding the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir – are scheduled to go to polls next year. Among the states that are scheduled to go to polls next year are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand.
In January last year, PM Modi pitched for ‘one nation, one election’ and said the continuous cycle of elections results in politics being seen in everything while development works suffer. He also said that frequent polls hamper development works and make people impute political motives at every step of a government.
Speaking on the special session of Parliament called by the government, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he does not know what important situation has arisen that the Parliament is being convened suddenly. He said elections are nearing, and in the states going to elections, the BJP’s condition is bad.
This special session is being called by them to find a way to save themselves from this situation and how to mislead people again. If we get a chance, we will prove that this is not ‘Amrit Kaal’ but ‘Garal Kaal’. If the government has the courage then it should discuss the various issues including China and Manipur; they should accept our demand for constituting JPC,” he said.