Uniform Civil Codes & Ethical Dimensions

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        
Samadhaan

Context: Recently, the 22nd Law Commission recently agreed to re-examine the subject and started soliciting opinions and recommendations on UCC from the public and acknowledged religious bodies.

About

It aims to replace the existing diverse personal laws that vary based on religious affiliations and to brings a set of laws that govern personal matters, including marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, and succession, for all citizens regardless of their religion.

Example: 

  • Rights of women regarding inheritance differ based on the religion –

                  Act/Personal Law

Religion comes under the Law

                Inheritance Rights


Hindu Succession Act of 1956

Governs the rights of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs

  • Women have equal rights as that of men to inherit property from their parents

Muslim Personal Law


For Muslim Women

  • Muslim’s Women are entitled to a share of their husband's property, which is either 1/8th or 1/4th, depending on the presence of children. However, daughters' share is half of that of sons


Indian Succession Act of 1925


Christians, Parsis, and Jews

  • Christian women receive a predetermined share based on the presence of children or other relatives. 
  • Parsi widows receive an equal share as their children, with half of the child's share going to the deceased's parents if they are alive.

Ethical Approach 


Ethical Approaches

Analysis

Utility Test

  • Both in short- and long-term women would get benefited, because of gender equality in inheritance rights, equal rights in divorce. 

Rights Approach

  • The UCC will respect the rights of women, Right against exploitation, Right to marriage and divorce whereas Right to freedom of religion may be interfered as individuals have to be followed common code.

Justice Test

UCC will facilitate –

    • Equality before law irrespective of Religion
Based on Principles of Natural Justice – Ex. Equal rights for divorce, Adoption of child etc.

Common Good Test

  • A well discussed and inclusive UCC which take every community on board will best serves the society as a whole and not just some pocket of areas.

Gandhi’s Talisman

  • The socialist approach of UCC will empower the last person of a society by providing him/her equal rights on civil cases.

Virtue Approach

  • The UCC should be based on inclusiveness, Tolerance, impartial and based on attitude of compassion.

Ethical dimensions Related to UCC


In Favour: UCC

Against: UCC

Gender Justice – Equality and Self Respect for Women

    • Typically, men are given higher preference status in matters of succession and inheritance. 
    • However, Men and women will be on equal footing with a uniform civil code.
Ex. Rights of women regarding inheritance will be same irrespective of faith.

Religious & Cultural Diversity

A unified civil code could be perceived as a threat to this diversityEx. Marriage and divorce for of all religions would be govern by a single law, whereas at present Shariat law and Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 are for Muslim and Hindu respectively.

Accommodate the aspiration of youth

    • India has 55% of population below 25 years of age.
Social attitudes and aspirations are shaped by universal and global principles of equality, humanity, and modernity.
  • UCC can accommodate these aspirations of youth.
  • Ex. UCC make procedures easy to adopt a child.

Against the Right to Freedom of Religion

UCC may require individuals to follow laws that may not be in accordance with their religious beliefs and practices.Ex. Practice of Divorce is different in Hindu and Muslim 

Make Coherent system of laws

  • Unified law for all irrespective of religions and customs make coherent system of laws.
  • It will reduce burden on Judiciary as well as accelerate the disposal rate because of decrease in diversity of rules and laws.

Threat to harmony

True integration in a democracy stands for tolerance and the coexistence of different communities.It is unlikely to foster goodwill between communities to wrench a community's valued laws and culture and push it to adopt new laws.

Promotes Secularism

  • True secularism is based on a single set of laws that apply to everyone's personal affairs, regardless of religion. 
  • The UCC would support the nation's secular fabric and assist in putting an end to gender discrimination based on religion.

Threat to Multiculturalism: 

    • Indian society has a unique identity in the form of its being multiculturalism, and unified law might do away with these unique characteristics of this nation.
Ex. Tradition and Cultures of Tribals

Conclusion

  • UCC's main objective is to achieve gender equality and eradicate all forms of discrimination in all personal laws. Legislators should therefore ensure that women from all communities are granted similar rights in cases involving inheritance, child adoption, divorce, etc. 
  • It is necessary to combine social awareness with significant legislative changes in the legislation. These actions will increase the Uniform Civil Code's influence and scope in India.
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