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Uniform Civil Code: Towards Gender Justice

Updated: Apr 15

Authored by Kumar Nishant, 2nd-year law student at MNLU Aurangabad

Uniform Civil Code: Towards Gender Justice
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This article examines the idea of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as a possible tool for attaining gender equity in multicultural societies. Implementing a UCC has long been a topic of discussion, especially in nations with a history of differing personal laws. The effects of a UCC on women's rights, social justice, and gender equality are examined in this article. The research attempts to offer a thorough understanding of the function of a Uniform Civil Code in advancing gender justice by examining legal frameworks, societal viewpoints, and international practices.


India currently has a number of family laws, such as the Hindu Marriage Act, the Parsee Marriage Act, the Christian Marriage Act, the Muslim Personal Law and the Divorce Act.  Anyone can officiate a marriage under the 1954 Special Marriage Act, regardless of the faith practised by either party. There are different personal laws for Muslims and Hindus. Hindu legislation has experienced substantial modernization and secularisation through legislative enactments, whereas Muslim law remains traditional and unaltered. India has both statutory and non-statutory family laws, each with its own distinct set of regulations pertaining to marriage.[1] To attain equality, homogeneity of legislation, non-discrimination and secularization, a common civil code for all Indian citizens is to be made available to them, as stated in Article 44 of the Constitution. Nonetheless, Article 37 of the Indian Constitution states that part IV of the constitution, regardless of its intrinsic importance to the nation's government, is unenforceable in any court.

UCC and Gender Equality

The chairman of the Law Commission of India, Justice B.S. Chauhan, recently stated in an interview that the Uniform Civil Code will guarantee gender equality and justice. He said that if any changes are made to the UCC, they should not interfere with religious freedom since the Law Commission is now gathering input on the matter from many parties. But the fundamental query behind it is whether or not UCC reform and religious freedom can coexist?

There are two possible courses of action: either all personal laws should be codified and brought into compliance with basic rights, or the UCC will replace all personal laws with new legislation. AIMPLB has lately abstained from responding to the Law Commission of India's inquiry, indicating their dissatisfaction with UCC; in contrast, the Hindu Mahasabha, RSS, and Viswa Hindu Parishad have been vocal in their support of UCC. Therefore, different organisations are not in agreement over UCC. There are rumours that UCC is used as a club to beat minorities, particularly Muslims.

Within the state of Goa, the Goa UCC peacefully coexists with a number of personal laws. They don't both stand for either/or options. Therefore, if it is approved, UCC will be an option, much like the Special Marriage Act. It is protected under the Constitution's Articles 25 and 26. Nonetheless, both pieces touch on issues of public order, morality, health, and social justice and equality. As a result, traditions like caste prejudice, polygamy, triple talaq, and sati may be outlawed.[2]

There is a close relationship between gender justice and UCC. A number of modern problems, including freedom, secularism, and religion, are impeding the justice and equality of women. Personal laws have many provisions that discriminate against women. In our country, UCC is required to protect women's rights and interests. Additionally, Article 44 of the Constitution provided guidelines for implementing the UCC. Why can't all Indian citizens, regardless of caste, be covered by a uniformly applicable UCC in our country? No personal law is the same for any group because different groups are subject to different laws. For example, In India, Christians are subject to the Cochin Christian Succession Act 1921, the Indian Christian Marriage Act 1989, the Indian Divorce Act 1969, and other laws, while Parsis are subject to different laws.

As far as we are aware, 1955 and 1956 saw the codification of Hindu law. Before then, Hindus were highly likely to be polygamous. According to Hindu law, the only states where a woman can be a coparcener are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. In addition, Hindu women are not granted the same rights during partition as Hindu men. Even though she is the legal heir, she cannot claim partition in dwelling house cases. [3] Hindu women who are married are not generally allowed to adopt children on their own. Throughout her husband's life, she is unable to act as their natural guardian. That being said, numerous provisions that discriminate against women persist even after Hindu law was codified. A Christian is not allowed to leave any property to charitable or religious trusts, according to discriminatory provisions in the Indian Succession Act that the Supreme Court recently brought to light.

Compared to other personal laws, women's status is substantially worse under Muslim law. Muslim women had a lower status than Muslim men in all spheres of life prior to the Arabic era. Muslim women are granted equal rights in every way by the Quran, along with a respected status. However, Muslim women still do not have access to the equal rights outlined in the Quran even now. The main cause of this is the absence of codification in Muslim law. As a result, various subgroups have diverse interpretations of Islamic law.

A Muslim male is allowed to marry four times. That implies that polygamy is permitted by Islamic law. Additionally, the Muslim Shia community recognizes mutta marriages, which are transient unions. However, Muslim women's circumstances are the worst when it comes to divorce. The instant kind of talaq, known as talaq-e-biddat, is recognized by Sunnis. In this case, talaq took effect as soon as the husband said it three times in a row. It's an unchangeable form of talaq.[4] Even though the Prophet Muhammad disapproved of it, the majority of Muslim men nevertheless follow it because different scholars have given different interpretations of Muslim law. So, in order to safeguard women's interests, UCC must be implemented immediately in our nation. A Muslim man can inherit twice as much property as a Muslim woman, even in matters of succession. If a Muslim woman is eligible for maintenance, she cannot continue to receive it after the iddat period. Do Muslims have to abide by Section 125 of the Cr.P.C? Muslims are also covered by Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. and the Shah Bano case ruling specifies that Muslims are still eligible for maintenance after the iddat period. However, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 was passed in an attempt to overturn the decision made in the Shah Bano case. Maintenance is available to Muslim women who are alive after this act is passed, up until the iddat period, unless she and her spouse register their desire to have the laws of the Commonwealth applied to them at the appropriate time. Nevertheless, subsequently, in Daniel Latifi's case, the Supreme Court held once more that Muslims are covered by section 125 of the Cr.P.C. and deemed the act unconstitutional.

Present Scenario in Our Country

Women continue to fight against gender discrimination despite seven decades of independence, primarily due to religious beliefs. Women face discrimination in India based on their religion. However, the decisions made by the temple trusts in Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar to permit women's entry inside the premises represent a progressive step toward gender equality. Promoting gender equality is another of UCC's primary goals.

Following its hearing of numerous marriage cases, many of which involved Muslim women, the Supreme Court made observations. It reminded the current administration on a regular basis to investigate the application of UCC in the nation. The Law Commission has been asked by the current Modi government to assess whether enforcing UCC nationwide is feasible.  One of the main causes of UCC's absence in our nation is the lack of political consensus. This is due to the fact that a lot of political parties were afraid of losing the vote banks of the minority if they backed UCC. As a result, a number of political parties criticize the UCC, engaging in the worst possible communal behaviours that no one can imagine. With the exception of Islam, every religion has changed its personal laws to reflect various social reforms. All that hasn't changed over the ages is Muslim law.[5]

Minorities, particularly Muslims, have always opposed UCC. Since Muslim personal laws are derived from the Quran and are not enacted by parliament, the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction over them; according to a statement from the private organization AIMPLB, Art. 13 of the Constitution cannot be applied to Muslim law because it states that Muslim law is a religious matter and does not fall under the purview of human-made law. Many Islamic nations have unified laws based on Shariat, and both Muslims and non-Muslims are subject to them. These nations took pride in their Muslim identity. What is the reason behind AIMPLB's concern that if Indian Muslims are subject to the same civil laws, they will all stop being Muslims? What issue would there be if they were subject to comparable civil and criminal laws, given that their criminal laws are not even derived from Shariat law, unlike other Islamic nations? Only when we have the answers to these questions will we be able to determine the underlying cause of this.

AIMPLB and several other legal experts vehemently objected to a questionnaire that the Law Commission recently posted in an attempt to get public input on the application of UCC. The argument put forth was that the focus is mainly on Muslim law, while other religious communities' private laws contain discriminatory practices that are ignored. It seemed to them that the Muslim community was the intended target, and Muslim law emphasises its negative characteristics rather than its positive ones.

In an interview, eminent legal scholar Flavia Agnes stated that the questionnaire failed to draw attention to detrimental aspects of Hindu law, such as dowry deaths. She stated that it is inappropriate to bring up any topic in the way that it has been. She explained that we must first have a conversation before preparing a draft and presenting it to the relevant parties after obtaining the consent of minority communities. She also said that, although in different ways, all personal laws discriminate against women. According to her, the Hindu Marriage Act's sec. 7 rituals, such as the kanyadan, are discriminatory. She revealed that after marriage, women are regarded as paraya dhan under Hindu law, which is discriminatory.[6]


Minority groups in India, particularly Muslims, are constantly unhappy and resentful of the UCC. Therefore, it would be unwise to bring up this sensitive subject at the expense of offending Indian minorities. First, the Muslim Personal Law needs to be codified. The community's backwardness and the Muslim leadership's lack of bravery and fear are the main barriers to the reform of Muslim personal law. Thus, in order to ascertain the opinions of the minority communities, the government ought to hold referendums there.

The government must encourage the public to understand the importance of Article 44 to foster a favourable environment for the implementation of UCC. A government that wants to protect minorities from enforcing foreign laws must reassure them of this. The government cannot enact UCC without first considering Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. Additionally, one should evaluate the legality and enforceability of Article 44. If such measures are adopted, then Article 44 will be implemented in India without any problem.


Currently, the only group opposed to any attempt to impose UCC in our nation is the Muslim community itself. In their eyes, UCC was attacking their right to practice their religion. Though many other Islamic countries have done so, why can't Indian Muslims amend their private laws that were passed in the 1930s?[7] The Constitution is the highest law in India, a secular nation. The Constitution supersedes personal law, no matter how sacred it is. Should a codified civil law system be implemented in the nation, Indian Muslims should not object if there already exists a secular criminal code that they recognize, despite it not being a sharia law.[8]

UCC is crucial to our nation because it will advance gender equality and justice. Additionally, as stated in our constitution's Preamble, it will uphold integrity and unity. However, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution must become enforceable before this can be accomplished.

In India, various religious communities have their own civil law customs related to marriage, adoption, and other matters. These communities include the Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, and Parsi communities. However, there isn't a single family law in India that applies to all of the country's religious groups. Ensuring that every individual receives the dignity they deserve is the primary goal of UCC. Every human being is not treated with dignity by personal laws in a number of ways. The main aim of UCC is to unite by nationality and not to divide by religion.


[1] Anusha Soni, “Law Commission Chairman on Uniform Civil Code: Each religion would continue to have personal laws”, retrieved from <> last visited on 15 November, 2023

[2]BG Verghese, “Who’s afraid of a Uniform Civil Code”, retrieved from <>    last visited on 19 November, 2023

[3] Saumya Saxena, Women's rights shouldn't get lost in the uniform civil code vs. personal law debate, retrieved from <> last visited on 13 November, 2023

[4] Ibid 3

[5]M. Venkaiah Naidu, “Why not a common civil code for all?”, retrieved from <> last visited on 20 November, 2023

[6] Shishir Tripathi, “Uniform Civil Code debate focuses on Muslim law but ignores other communities: Flavia Agnes”, published on 19 October, 2016, retrieved from <> last visited on 14 November, 2023

[7]Raya Hazarika, “Should India have a Uniform Civil Code?”, retrieved from      <>      last visited on 14 November, 2023

[8] Madhushala, “Need for Uniform Civil Code in India: A human rights perspective”, retrieved from <> last visited on 17 November, 2023

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