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Gujarat Seeks to Bring Uniform Civil Code: What is it?

Nov 01, 2022

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Our today's edition of Current Affairs is here. Read to know more about What is Uniform Civil code and why Gujarat seeks to bring it? Also, find the topic's relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus below:

For Prelims: Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Article 44, Directive Principles, Part IV of the Constitution, Article 37, Fundamental Rights.

For Mains: Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India, Relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles, Uniformity in personal law in India, Significance of Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

Context

Recently, the Gujarat Home Minister, after Uttarakhand, announced the formation of a committee to implement a uniform civil code (UCC) in the state.

Probable Question

The various State government has taken stance on a uniform civil code (UCC) that has evolved from one regime to the next, especially in the last eight years. Comment.

About Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India

  • UCC provides one law for the entire country.
  • It is applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, etc. 
  • As per Article 44 of the Indian constitution
    • “The state shall endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.”
    • Article 44 is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, described in Part IV of the Constitution.
  • According to Article 37 of the Indian constitution: 
    • “The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.”
  • The Constitution lists the UCC among the Directive Principles of State Policy, which makes it a desirable objective, but it is not justiciable (not legally enforceable in a court of law).
Note

Relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles:

The Directive Principles of State Policy follow the Fundamental Rights (Part III, Arts 12-35) in the Constitution. The Fundamental Rights lie at the heart of the Constitution and are justiciable, which means they are legally enforceable in a court of law.

The Supreme Court in its landmark Minerva Mills judgment (1980) held that: Indian Constitution is founded on the bedrock of the balance between Parts III (Fundamental Rights) and IV (Directive Principles).

 To give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the Constitution.

As per Article 31C of the Indian constitution: If a law is made to implement any of the Directive Principles, it cannot be challenged on the ground of being violative of the Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 and 19.

Uniformity in Personal Law in India

  • Indian laws are already uniform in most civil matters, for example:
    • The Indian Contract Act, 
    • Civil Procedure Code, 
    • Sale of Goods Act, 
    • Transfer of Property Act, 
    • Partnership Act, 
    • Evidence Act, etc. 
  • However, states have made a large number of amendments, and so, there is diversity even in the secular civil laws in certain aspects.
  • Personal laws of religions are diverse in themselves. Thus, all Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians. 
  • In some parts of India, not only British legal traditions, even those of the Portuguese and the French remain operative.
  • In the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws. 
  • The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram. 
  • Even reformed Hindu law, in spite of codification, protects customary practices.

Significance of Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

  • The UCC will be a significant step to solidifying the spirit of the Constitution. 
  • This will also be an effective step towards Article 44 of the Constitution which talks about securing a UCC for every citizen of the country. 
  • The apex court, too, from time to time has emphasized the implementation of UCC.

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Status of UCC in India

  • Uttarakhand, before Gujarat, has also announced the formation of a committee led by a retired Supreme Court judge to carry out a similar exercise.
  • Assam and Himachal Pradesh have also supported the idea of a UCC.
  • At present Goa is the only state to have UCC implementation in India.

News Source: The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/everyday-explainers/what-is-uniform-civil-code-gujarat-uttarakhand-8238306/

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