Beyond uniformity: on ruling out a uniform civil code
Mains Paper: 2 | Judiciary
Prelims level: uniform civil code
Mains level: The Law Commission’s advice to end discrimination in personal laws is persuasive.
- The Law Commission’s consultation paper on reform of family laws is a progressive document that avoids the advocacy of a uniform civil code merely for the sake of uniformity.
- It would facilitate movement towards establishing a body of civil law that promotes equality within the law governing each community.
- It advocates the removal of discriminatory provisions in the law relating to aspects such as marriage, divorce, succession and adoption in all religions.
- And also the adoption of certain universal principles that would address gender bias and other forms of existing discrimination.
- A simple way of moving towards a common marriage law is to make 18 the marriageable age for all communities and genders.
- When the age of majority and the age of voting, among other indicators of adulthood, stand at 18, there is no reason for differential treatment on this score.
- The Commission rightly points out that the present age of 21 for men merely affirms the stereotype that the wife should be younger.
- The panel suggests abolition of the 30-day notice period for civil marriages to prevent its misuse by those against inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
- It also suggests division of property equally after divorce, and removal of illnesses that can be cured or controlled from possible grounds of divorce.
Law commission changes and recommendation
- The thrust of the Law Commission’s report is founded on the idea that “the mere existence of difference does not imply discrimination, but is indicative of a robust democracy.”
- The changes have been mooted to give equal treatment to children and parents of any gender in guardianship and adoption matters.
- The juvenile law principle that the child’s best interest is the ‘paramount consideration’ has also been put forward for universal application.
- The Law Commission has framed the issue in the most reasonable way possible when it says it has “dealt with laws that are discriminatory rather than providing a uniform civil code which is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.”
- The Directive Principles of State Policy that favour a uniform civil code; also, some court judgments have questioned why such a code was not yet in place.
- However, in a world that increasingly heeds cultural diversity, it is unnecessary that every aspect of personal law should be dealt with in exactly the same manner.
- A just code is one in which universal principles of equality, non-discrimination and avoidance of taboos and social assumptions are applicable in equal measure within every community’s set of laws.
UPSC Prelims Questions:
Q.1) Which of the following article of the constitution directed to establish Uniform Civil Code?
A. Article 44
B. Article 39
C. Article 40
D. Article 45
UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1. Explain the pros and cons of Uniform Civil Code.