SC’s latest remark on Uniform Civil Code has again triggered the discussion

Author, Rishika Jain

Uniform Civil Code is an idea that supports a single law for all civil issues such as adoption, divorce, marriage, etc.  in India irrespective of the victim’s or accused’s religion. The constitution of India laid the idea of UCC in Article 44 under Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) that means that the UCC is not enforced by the court & is just a fundamental principle of governance.

UCC aims towards the protection of vulnerable sections of the society like women or religious minorities as emphasized by the B.R. Ambedkar. It is very much useful in the simplification process of complex laws. This code is something that can make the idea of secularism stronger in Indian society by putting laws above faith. Along with this, Uniform Civil Code can work best towards gender justice as when all personal laws will exit, then the existing gender biases in them will also cease.

In spite of this, there are many challenges that make the implementation of UCC still an out of the question task. Exceptions in the central family law related to Jammu & Kashmir, Goa, Daman & Diu, and North-Eastern states tough the job of UCC implementation. Communal politics always remain a big stone in UCC execution. Article 25 & 14 of the Indian constitution that ensures the freedom of profess and propagate any religion & right to equality always come out as strong points in the UCC debate.

In 2014, UCC implementation is one of the major promises of BJP in their election manifesto along with Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir & abrogation of Jammu & Kashmir Article 370. Because of this, there is a chain of BJP led states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Assam & Uttarakhand committed to implement the UCC in their respective states.

Recently, the Uttarakhand government took a step towards the set up of a UCC committee, headed by Justice Ranjan P. Desai, a former court judge. This step of the government was challenged by Anoop Baranwal through a petition in SC arguing that only the center could set up a UCC committee. But the Supreme Court on 9th January, 2022 held that a state government decision of setting up a committee cannot be challenged. SC cancels the petitioner argument on basis of Article 165 that extends the state’s executive scope along with Entry 5 of the concurrent list of the 7th schedule of the Indian constitution that deals with the divorce, marriage, infants, adoption, joint family, partition & all such civil matters subject to personal laws.

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This SC decision not to interfere in the Uttarakhand government’s work gave an enthusiastic hand not only to the Pushkar Singh Dhami government but also to other BJP led states. Many states like Gujarat are now trying to follow the same path by setting up a UCC committee.

Rishika Jain is a student of Delhi School of Journalism, University of Delhi. Views are personal.

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