Government has failed to bring in Uniform Civil Code: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court said the Constitution framers had hoped for a uniform set of rules but the nation has still not endeavoured to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code.

The judgment by the Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose observed that the government has till date has taken no action.

The Supreme Court delivered the judgement in the case concerning the question of whether succession and inheritance of a Goan domicile are governed by the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 or the Indian Succession Act of 1925.

What did the Supreme Court Say?

  • The Constitution framers had hoped that a uniform set of rules would replace the distinct personal laws of marriage, divorce, etc. based on the customs of each religion.
  • Article 44 in Part IV which deals with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard.
  • Even though the Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country”.
  • Despite exhortations of the Supreme Court in the case of Shah Bano in 1985, the government has done nothing to bring the Uniform Civil Code.
  • The Supreme Court hailed the State of Goa as a “shining example” where the uniform civil code applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.

How Goa came to have a Uniform Civil Code?

Goa was a Portuguese colony until it was made part of India in 1961. The Portuguese law which was governing Goa became a part of the India laws. Thus Goa became the only state in the country to have a Uniform Civil Code.

Uniform Civil Code

Uniform Civil Code refers to replacing the personal laws (based on religious scriptures and customs) with a common set of governing rules for all citizens irrespective of the religion they belong to.

The idea of Uniform Civil Code is highly contested not just among citizens and political parties, even among institutions. While the Supreme Court has time and again emphasized on the need of Uniform Civil Code, the  Law Commission of India consultation paper in 2018 had however said the Uniform Civil Code is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage” in the country and held that secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.

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