Delhi HC bats for Uniform Civil Code: What is UCC, and why the court said it's time for a common law

The Uniform Civil Code essentially calls for the formulation of one law for India, applicable to all religious communities in matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, etc

FP Staff July 09, 2021 17:55:54 IST
Delhi HC bats for Uniform Civil Code: What is UCC, and why the court said it's time for a common law

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The Delhi High Court on Friday backed the formation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India and asked the Centre to take the necessary steps in this matter.

Stressing on the need for a civil code 'common to all' in view of changing paradigms, the court noted that the modern Indian society is gradually becoming "homogeneous", dissipating "traditional barriers" of religion, community and caste.

According to a report in LiveMint, Justice Prathiba M Singh, who passed the judgment observed that courts have been repeatedly confronted with the conflicts that arise in personal laws. "People belonging to various communities, castes, and religions, who forge marital bonds, struggle with such conflicts," she observed.

"The youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes, or religions who solemnise their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws," Justice Singh said.

What is Uniform Civil Code?

The Uniform Civil Code or UCC essentially refers to a common set of laws governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, and succession for all citizens of the country, irrespective of their religion.

Currently, different laws regulate these aspects for adherents of different religions and a UCC is meant to do away with these inconsistent personal laws.

These laws include the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Indian Christian Marriages Act, Indian Divorce Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, etc.

There are also the Muslim personal laws, but they have not been codified and are based on Islamic texts. However, certain aspects of the texts are recognised through laws such as the Shariat Application Act and Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act.

What did the Delhi High Court say on UCC?

The Delhi High Court judge said that a Uniform Civil Code in India, as envisioned under Article 44 of the Constitution, has been "reiterated from time to time" by the Supreme Court. Such a civil code would be "common to all", the court said, and would enable uniform principles to be applied in matters of marriage, divorce, and succession.

This will reduce conflicts and contradictions within the society that arise from various personal laws, the court observed.

The court's observation came while hearing a plea seeking the applicability of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in respect of the parties who belong to the Meena community in view of the exclusion under Section 2(2) of the HMA, 1955.

The couple got married on 24 June, 2012. A petition seeking divorce under Section 13-1(ia) of the HMA, 1955, was filed by the man on 2 December, 2015. The woman prayed for rejection of the divorce petition, on the ground that the provisions of the HMA, 1955, do not apply to the parties concerned as they are members of a notified Scheduled Tribe in Rajasthan, and hence the HMA, 1955 would not be applicable to the case of the said parties in view of Section 2(2) of the HMA, 1955.

The application was decided by the family court and the divorce petition was dismissed by holding that the provisions of the HMA, 1955, do not extend to the Meena community, which is a notified Scheduled Tribe. The man challenged the trial court order dated 28 November, 2020, in the high court.

The high court allowed his appeal to challenge the trial court order and set aside trial court decisions.

What is the origin of UCC

The origin of the UCC dates back to the pre-independence era when the British government, in a report submitted in 1835, stressed on "the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts", and insisted that "personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification".

With inputs from agencies

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