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Uniform Civil Code Towards Gender Justice


Authored by - Shreya Yadav

Keywords - Gender Justice, Uniform Civil Code, Constitution, Equality, 42nd amendment


Abstract


India became a secular country through the 42nd amendment which added the word “secular and socialist” into the preamble of the constitution of India. The constitution maker’s sought India to be a non-discriminatory country, that there should be no discrimination based on color, caste, sex religion, or creed. This was gained by several Articles embedded in the Constitution of India.


But is there no discrimination in India? Are women given equal rights as men? There is still a lot of discrimination that is faced by them which is supported by the religion or culture of India. Personal laws dealing with the areas of divorce, maintenance, family matters, succession, etc all of them are in some way or the other discriminating between men and women.

Introduction


“Where women walk in public processions in the streets the same as men,

Where they enter the public assembly and takes Place the same as the men,

Where the city of faith fullest friends stands,

Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands,

Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands,

There the great city stands.”

-Stated by Walt Whitman in the Song of the Broad-Axe.

The debate for a Uniform Civil Code(thereinafter UCC) is a century-long. Article 44 of the constitution expects the state to secure a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens of India[1]. A UCC is existing in India as when considering criminal charges the Indian penal code applies to every citizen of India but when it comes to civil matters there is no such uniformity.[2]


Gender justice is equality among all the genders of the society which is giving them equal status and treatment. There are many instances of India being a patriarchal society as to a large number of crimes such as rape and dowry against women has nothing to with religion rather it is because of the gender[3]. Part III and part IV of the Indian Constitution envision many Articles that protect gender equality among men and women.

Gender Justice Essential Feature of UCC


There have been a lot of instances under personal laws that show us the need for the UCC, as personal laws do not grant women the same status as the men. UCC, whenever in the debate either in favor or against, the academians have always supported the gender justice factor. There has been no defiance of the equality potential of the UCC.

Judicial Approach


The UCC has been demanded by many judges as the need of the society as personal laws are discriminatory to women, it was highlighted in the case Mhd. Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano[4], where a Muslim woman demanded maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, was questioned by his husband in the court stating that as being Muslim they are governed by Muslim personal laws which are the Shariat law. There was a lot of confusion and debate going on regarding Personal laws and UCC as later on the husband in the middle of the proceedings gave her divorce by the way of triple talaq. A statement was given by the D. Chinnappa Reddy in the case Ms. Jordan Deigndeh vs. S.S. Chopra[5], stating in the light of the Shah Bano case, “The present case is yet another event which focuses on the immediate and compulsive need for a uniform civil code. The unsatisfactory state of affairs consequent on the lack of uniform civil code is exposed by the facts of the present case”.

Debate on Personal Laws


The UCC has been opposed by the many religious leaders on the basis that Article 25 of the Indian constitution grants them the right to practice profess any religion without restraint. The want for the UCC has created a major dispute between communal rights and individual rights[6].


Personal Laws of Muslims whether being divorce or maintenance are slightly or many a time wholly favoring the husband, with giving no rights to the wife which is discriminatory towards Muslim women. Similarly, Hindu laws were also discriminatory but the codification of the Hindu Law to an extent eradicated gender inequality but still, issues are pertaining, which needs to be dealt with. A recent judgment, Vineeta Sharma vs Rakesh Sharma[7] , stating the equal rights of inheritance in the ancestral property was given to the women in Hindu succession of the property, it is an example of the changes still required and going on.

UCC is a suggestion to remove all the personal laws and every citizen of India be governed by Uniform Civil laws which would lead to no such discrimination against the women. But, if applied no personal laws protection would be given to any religion. Therefore, if suggested by a Hindu communist party, the majority of Muslims and Christians would be against the uniform civil code, arguing that it would be against there cultural identity and diminish their culture.

Conclusion


India is a secular country providing every citizen of India the right to equality and equal protection of rights for the welfare of the citizens. India has uniform laws for everything except civil matter including divorce, maintenance, marriage, adoption, etc. Therefore, it creates a need in society for such uniform civil laws when certain discrimination towards women is being faced because of the personal laws to protect the concept of the right to equality which is needed for a great nation to thrive.

References


[1] Howlader, R. Uniform Civil Code Towards Gender Justice. Legalservicesindia.com. Retrieved 13 August 2020, from http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1832/Uniform-Civil-Code-Towards-Gender-Justice.html#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20Uniform%20Civil,laws%20there%20is%20no%20uniformity.

[2] Chapter 4 UNIFORM CIVIL CODE AND GENDER JUSTICE. Shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in. Retrieved 14 August 2020, from http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in:8080/jspui/bitstream/10603/290456/5/14_chapter4.pdf.

[3] Crime and theories of punishment. Shodhganga. Retrieved 12 August 2020, from https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/45012/9/09_chapter%204.pdf.

[4] 1985 AIR 945, 1985 SCR (3) 844.

[5] 1985 AIR 935, 1985 SCR Supl. (1) 704.

[6] Ibid. [3].

[7] 2019 (6) SCC 162.