Uniform Civil Code
Topic:- Issue Concerning Politics
The founding fathers of our nation conceived of India as a multi religious society where all religious would be free to flourish in harmony and thereby we would establish a secular nation where state would have no religion. But sometimes dreams do not come true. Our secularism has been interpreted in a wrong way. Interpretation that all religions would flourish in harmony has been taken as-my religion would flourish at the cost of other religions. This has, inculcated unnecessary confronation amongst the followers of different religions. Our shrewd politicians do not miss a chance to add fuel to fire and whenever the government tries to bring about certain common codes for the entire population they fan communalism and hammer into the minds of the people the notion that government is interfering in the personal affairs. In almost all the Countries there is one civil code for all the citizens.
What is the need of the civil code?
The basic ideology behind the formulation of uniform civil code is to kick out any discrimination on the basis of religion. Almost followers of different religions go by the dictates of their scriptures or the preaching’s given by their respective founders of the religion. Naturally there can’t be a meeting point and this civil code differs from religion to religion. Personal laws have become the main instrument of exploitation and prevailing evils in society. Country is one but people are divided on the basis of personal laws.
Article 44 of the constitution states that the state shall endeavor to secure for the citizens uniform civil code, throughout the territory of India. Years have passed and yet we have failed to evolve a uniform civil code for all the citizens of the country. Uniform civil code has been a hot subject and a controversial issue. Article 14 says that the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. In reality we see that many personal laws relating to marriage, Inheritance, Guardianship, divorce and maintenance and property matters in all communities are unjust, especially to women. Women are the worst victims of personal laws.
A pertinent question arises. To which extent the scriptures or the religious preaching’s and traditions of any religion be allowed to nullify the cherished goals of our sacred Constitution and of our secular set-up. Regressive practices are eulogized just for perpetuating the bossism of religious leaders and clever politicians. Many do not want light to pierce the darkness of ages because, if darkness is devoured the so-called leaders would get exposed and come out in their natural dress. All religions preach equality and shun any kind of discrimination but mouthpieces of religion present a distorted picture and the gullible public is easily taken in by their clever moves.
Can any religion claim that injustice and gender based discrimination are indispensable for its identity and very life? Can any religion allow discrimination based on gender?
Can any secular state allow discrimination based on religion, community and gender? We are still allowing discrimination against the women. Is it not unlawful and unconstitutional?
Does it not belittle the sanctity of our sacred Constitution that guarantees equality? Don’t leaders aspire to bring about unity of hearts and guarantee well-being of all the people? The hurdles created in the way of thee formation of uniform civil code very much display the chameleonic character of our political and religious leaders.
The Apex Court pleaded for a uniform civil code while declaring section 118 of the Indian Succession Act 1925 as unconstitutional as it was arbitrary, irrational and violates article 14 of the constitution that states that all are equal before the law and have equal protection of the laws. At another point of time the court declared that the right to follow one’s personal law is not a fundamental right.
Ground reality is that complete uniformity in civil matters in a country having different cultural settings with the divergent religious beliefs and socio-economic standards seems well-nigh a far-fetched idea, a distant dream, a utopian ideal. For example, let us take the case of polygamy. In our country, different people belonging to different religions have their own family laws of marriage and divorce. Bigamy among Hindus became a criminal offence in 1950s. people still indulge in polygamy and because the present law allows only the aggrieved person to appeal against bigamy most of such marriage continue.
Let us learn something about another provision. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 entitled daughters to an equal share in all properties but it not applicable to joint family property. The daughter entitled to only a share of her father’s property but the sons enjoy full rights. Such laws show grave discrimination towards the women. So much so, the people are flouting the provision of equal right to property by the daughter by willing away the property to eldest son or to some other male member and thus depriving the helpless daughters of their rightful share.
Some communities get very touchy whenever an attempt is made to formulate uniform civil code. Every religion provides safety valves to its followers. The Quran promulgated the doctrine of equality, including sex equality as it declares that all human beings whatever their sex spring from a single soul. By awarding dower to the bride, the Prophet gave undisputed right to property to women. Though divorce is allowed but proper checks and balances have also been framed. Woman is held in high esteem. It is just possible that forces of history and socio-economic compulsions brought a little bit of change and the husband assumed unbridled rights. Every religion has the capacity to accommodate change and reform. A new social order, rational, humane and liberal is emerging and woman has attracted the maximum attention among all the communities of the world. No community can afford to live in isolation.
Change is creeping into though very slowly. After the Fatwa of Ahl-e-Hadith against triple divorce, a discussion has already been started. In the Muslim bureaucracy, a tangible change has appeared. Educated classes are rejecting child marriage. Change is imperceptible as acceleration of a change depends primarily on the spread of education and raise in economic condition.
Religion must become very-very personal and it must be restricted to rituals only. State must see that its citizens get equal protection of law and there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender. All laws must be applicable equally to man and woman. We must sit across the table to formulate uniform civil code. Broadmindedness is all imperative to realize this dream of a uniform civil code. This dream realized would consolidate unity of the country in great measures and bring about an all-round harmony guaranteeing prosperity and progress for all.