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Why Is Uniform Civil Code Essential In India?


India is a country with a population of around 138 crores and is known for its unity and diversity. The diversity in the cultural and religious front is something that attracts foreigners to visit India. It has more than 9 religions, 3000 castes, 25000 sub-castes, and around 33 million gods worshipped under Hinduism alone. With 64% of its population being in the age group of 15-64, it is a land where everyone gives value to their country’s assets and heritage. With more than 30 festivals being celebrated each year and the different types of culture embodied in each state, all these features make India a unique country in the world. So, how does Uniform Civil code play a role here? Since India is diverse in many aspects, Uniform Civil Code will help all the classes and sections of the society to be uniformly and equally treated in the eyes of law irrespective of their religion, caste, sex or creed, and it also deals with a secular concept which severs the connection between religion and law in this modern civilization.


The Beginning:

The debate regarding the Uniform Civil Code started in the year 1757, during the colonial period. The 1840 Lex Loci Report stated the significance of the uniformity in the codification of Indian law, relating to crimes, evidence and contract. But later on, while laws related to crimes were codified, other personal and individual laws were separated with different codes for different communities. Post the colonial period, due to influential personalities like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. B R Ambedkar, the concept of Uniform Civil Code was pushed further and later, it was brought under Article 44 enshrined in Part IV (i.e.; Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution of India. It brings out the concept of one nation one law and the duty of the state promises the people a constant and consistent civil code throughout the territory of India. It deals with concepts like marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance, adoption and succession of the property. But since it comes under the DPSP, it is considered to be a mere direction to the state, which is not enforceable by the court as opposed to the case of contravention of fundamental rights

Two primary reforms

(i)The Hindu Code Bill:

This bill was introduced on August 1st, 1946 but it was reintroduced on April 11, 1947, by Dr. B R Ambedkar in the constituent assembly. This bill mainly legalized divorce, opposed polygamy, and gave rights of inheritance of family property to daughters. From 1955 till 1956, four Hindu code bills were published. They were:

(I)The Hindu Marriage Act

(II)The Hindu Succession Act

(III)The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act

(IV)The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act

(ii)The Special Marriage Act, 1954:

This act was formed to provide special forms of marriage to people in India and those Indians residing in foreign countries irrespective of his or her religion or caste It was passed by the Parliament of India in January 1, 1955.

Landmark cases under Uniform Civil Code:

(i)Mohammed Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (1): Shah Bano, a 73-year-old Muslim woman, after her husband Mohammed Ahmed Khan divorced her after 40 years of marriage by triple talaaq, sought for maintenance form her husband which she was initially granted by a local court. Her husband took the matter to the Supreme Court and argued that he was not to provide her with maintenance as he took care of all the obligations under the Islamic law. The Supreme Court took a final decision in favor of the Petitioner, and held that under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, maintenance of wives, children and parents applied to all Indians irrespective of religion. After this case, the Supreme Court held that a Uniform Civil code has to be enacted

(ii)Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India(2): In this case, the issue raised was, whether a Hindu husband married under Hindu law, after conversion to Islam, without dissolving the first marriage, could solemnize a second marriage. The court held that, under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, the husband can be held liable for bigamy and that such a marriage is illegal.

(iii)Noor Saba Khatoon v. Mohammed Quasim(3): In this case, the Supreme Court held that until the children of a divorced Muslim woman attains majority, she can claim maintenance from the father and that his obligation is absolute under Muslim personal law.

(iv)Danial Latif v. Union of India(4):  In this case, the Supreme Court held that, under the Muslim women (protection of rights on divorce) Act, 1986 even after the iddat period a Muslim divorced woman can claim maintenance and the husband is liable to make reasonable provisions for the future of the divorced wife.

(v) John Vallamattom v. Union of India(5): In this case, John Vallamattom argued that Section 118 is discriminatory in nature. He argued that it imposes unreasonable restrictions on the donation of property for religious or charitable purposes by will for Christians. The Supreme Court held that Section 118 is contravenes Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and finally it was struck down.

Limitations of Uniform Civil Code:

India is tremendously diverse that there will always exist a practical difficulty in bringing uniform rules in force. The right to freedom of religion according to one’s own choice is a personal matter that the Uniform Civil code may violate. Since India is widely and vastly diverse, it also consists of minority groups and classes that practice their own set of religious traditional practices. Uniform Civil Code is considered by these groups as an encroachment on their religious rights. It might lead to communal violence if the government does not sort out the problems between the majority and minority communities in a fair and reasonable manner.


Why is Uniform Civil Code essential in India?

The Preamble of India contains the word “Secular”. Judicial orders have also been held in favor of the Uniform Civil Code in some of the landmark cases. Uniform Civil Code brings out gender parity and equality and abolishes every law in which women are restricted from their rights, thereby empowering and accrediting women. As stated in the introduction, since 64% of the population is 15 years and above, it will help to accommodate the modern aspirations and dreams of the young generation and they would get to realize their true potential. Under the Uniform Civil Code, no community can claim for special religious laws. This intensifies and empowers national Integration which is very essential for India. It helps in upholding all the rights of the citizens. The Uniform Civil Code will make all Indian Citizens equal in the eyes of law. This reaffirms the implication and the value of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution that deals with Right to equality before the law. It will help India to move forward and reach its goal of becoming a developed nation. Uniform Civil Code is enforced only in the state of Goa, where they actively practice a common law for all the citizens irrespective of religion, caste, creed, and gender. Every birth, death, and marriage is mandatorily registered in the state.


  1. AIR 1985 SC 945

  2. (1995) 3 SCC 635

  3. AIR 1997 SC 3280

  4. AIR 2001 SC 3262

  5. AIR 2003 SC 2902

Aathmaja Menon

2nd Year,

Ba;Llb (Hons)

Sastra University


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