Equality, everyone must have heard this word many times and everyone must believe in it, it is a very important part of our Constitution. Equality is necessary in many places like social equality, gender equality, legal equality, economic equality etc Just like these there is a type of equality known as 'Religious Equality', But the question is, does religious equality really exist in India?
The answer is no, here we respect religions, but not every religion gets equal status and equal rights. And the biggest reason for this is that many religions have their own personal laws in India. The biggest solution for this discrimination is UCC (UNIFORM CIVIL CODE).
WHAT IS UCC (UNIFORM CIVIL CODE) ?
Uniform Civil Code is mentioned in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, which is part of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). Article 44 states that "The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India."
These Directive Principles (DPSP) are not legally enforceable, but guide the state in policy making.
In India, Goa is the first state where a uniform civil code is applicable. After gaining independence from Portuguese rule in 1961, Goa maintained its own general family laws, known as the Goa Civil Code. In India, various personal laws are followed based on religious or community identities.
WHAT ARE PERSONAL LAWS ?
Personal laws in India refer to a set of laws that govern matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption according to the customs and traditions of specific religious communities or groups. These laws vary based on the individual's religious affiliation, and they are distinct from the general civil laws that apply uniformly across the country. Personal laws are predominantly derived from religious scriptures, customs, and traditions, and they govern matters pertaining to family and personal relationships within specific communities.
PERSONAL LAWS IN INDIA
At present, not only Muslims but also Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jews are governed by their personal laws. Revised Hindu Personal Law still includes some traditional practices. Differences arise when Hindus and Muslims marry, where Hindus are still governed by Hindu personal law, but Muslims does not have any uniform law.
IN WHAT AREAS DO WE NEED UNIFORMITY ?
1. Marriage and divorce: Currently, different personal laws govern marriage and divorce for various religious communities. UCC seeks to standardize these laws to provide equal rights and remedies to all citizens.
2. Inheritance and succession: Inheritance laws vary among different religious communities, leading to disparities in inheritance rights. UCC intends to ensure equality in inheritance and succession laws for all individuals.
3. Adoption and guardianship: Rules regarding adoption and guardianship also differ based on personal laws. UCC aims to establish consistent guidelines for adoption and guardianship procedures applicable to all citizens.
4. Maintenance and alimony: The provisions for maintenance and alimony vary under different personal laws. UCC seeks to establish uniform standards for determining maintenance and alimony rights for all individuals.
5. Property rights: Property rights are governed by different laws based on religious affiliation. UCC aims to ensure equality in property rights regardless of religion or community.
WHY PERSONAL LAWS CREATE A SENSE OF DISCRIMINATION?
1. Section 495 IPC - which says that "while having a living spouse , if someone does a second marriage , then it is a crime". There is only one exception to this uniform law that if a man is Muslim than he can do up to four marriages .
2. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage - Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a valid ground for divorce.
3. Property Rights - Hindu women- equal share in property Muslim women- not equal
4. Maintenance - Muslim women cannot claim maintenance for a long period of time like other Indian women.
5. Halala - Halala is a controversial practice in some interpretations of Islamic law, where a woman who has been divorced by her husband, is required to marry another man, and then if that marriage ends in divorce or Comes to an end through the death of the second husband. she is allowed to remarry her first husband.
The most important difference is that Indian law prescribes an uniform age of marriage for all religions which is 18 for women and 21 for men and this is also being talked about to increase for development. If marriage is done under this then it is child marriage and it is prohibited , but Muslim religion is allowed.
There are many more examples like this which shows why equality is important .
BENIFITS OF UCC
1. National Unity and Secularism:
A Uniform Civil Code will promote national unity and secularism by fostering a sense of equal identity and belonging among all citizens.
This will also reduce the communal and sectarian conflicts arising from various personal laws.
It will uphold the constitutional values of equality, fraternity, and dignity for all.
It will provide women with equal rights and status in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody, and maintenance.
2. Gender Justice and Equality:A Uniform Civil Code will ensure gender justice and equality by eliminating discrimination and oppression faced by women under various personal laws.
It will provide women with equal rights and status in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody, and maintenance. It will also empower women to challenge patriarchal and discriminatory practices that violate their fundamental rights.
3. Simplification and Rationalization of Legal System:
A Uniform Civil Code will simplify and rationalize the legal system by eliminating complexities and contradictions arising from various personal laws.
It will establish harmony between civil and criminal laws by resolving disparities and shortcomings resulting from various personal laws.
It will make the law more accessible and understandable to the general public.
4. Modernization and Reform of Outdated and Regressive Practices:
A Uniform Civil Code will modernize and reform outdated and regressive practices prevalent in some personal laws.
It will put an end to practices that are contrary to the human rights and values enshrined in the Indian Constitution, such as triple talaq, polygamy, child marriage, etc.
It will also align with changing social realities and aspirations of people.
The UCC should come true and this will make our country more united and secularism will come here in the true sense and recently UTRAKHAND GOVERNMENT took an initiative in which they introduced UCC .
There is also a need today that the initiative which has started from Uttarakhand should not stop. Other states and central government of the country should also make laws on this soon.