The contentious issue of the Uniform Civil Code took centrestage today with the Delhi High Court observing that there was need for the law in India. Passing a judgement on a plea involving the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 concerning the Meena community on July 7, Justice Prathiba M Singh said that there is a need for a Uniform Civil Code in India and asked the Centre to take the necessary steps in this regard.
The judgement observed that modern Indian society is gradually becoming homogeneous and is dissipating the traditional barriers of religion, community, and caste. The court observed that a uniform civil code is required given the changing paradigms. She noted that when people belonging to different castes and religions marry each other, they struggle with conflicts arising out of personal laws and the court is also repeatedly confronted with those conflicts.
The court noted that a Uniform Civil Code as envisioned under Article 44 of the Constitution of India would enable the application of uniform laws in matters related to marriage, divorce, and succession, thus reducing the conflicts that arise due to personal laws.
The Delhi high court judge also said that a Uniform Civil Code has been reiterated by the Supreme Court from time to time. The apex court had sought the Centre’s reply over religion-neutral inheritance and succession laws in March last year. Notably, a Uniform Civil Code has been on the agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and among the three key promises as mentioned by the saffron party in its manifesto. Of the three including Ram Temple in Ayodhya, revocation of Article 370, only UCC remains to be fulfilled. Both the BJP and the RSS are looking to build a consensus around it before actively delving into this contentious issue. Last year, a Supreme Court advocate and a member of the BJP Ashwini Upadhyay had filed five petitions related to the UCC in the apex court.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has been opposed to the move. It had said that India has a multicultural and multi-religious society and they has the constitutional right to maintain their identity.
In 2019, BJP MP Kirori Lal Meena had tried to introduce a private member’s bill over the UCC in the Rajya Sabha but had to back down due to the opposition benches claiming that the move could flare up communal tensions.