Uniform civil code 


Author – Shubhangi sinha, a student at institute of law, Nirma university

Abstract – India’s legal landscape is complicated by diverse personal laws governing marriage, divorce, adoption, and property. The 1985 Shah Bano case and the subsequent Muslim Women Act of 1986 highlight these conflicts. To address this, a proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) aims to ensure legal uniformity and equality for all citizens. While Hindu laws have reformed, Muslim, Christian, and tribal laws remain largely unchanged. The UCC has mixed support, with Muslim women largely in favor and conservative groups opposed. Goa’s Civil Code serves as a successful model. Advocates stress that the UCC will uphold the rule of law, but its implementation requires careful planning and public education.

India is a land of diverse cultures and various religions. These religions form an important part of the religious laws that are followed in India by its various citizens. These laws are a result of the age-old cultural and religious practices done and followed by people. These diversified laws however often contradict civil laws when followed concurrently. These personal religious laws are highly functional in areas of marriage, divorce, adoption and property matters. Different religions have different outlook for these matters, often different from one another. At times these differences cause turmoil in the judiciary and the judgment of the case. While one party may wish to proceed within the civil laws while the other party may wish to go with the personal law. In such cases both the civil laws and personal laws have a whole different point and thus can be contradictory in nature. Thus, handling such cases can lead to certain disagreements between the parties and such cases keep on dragging for years from one court to the other.

Shah Bano case 1985- is one of the famous cases regarding the contradictions of personal laws and civil laws. Shah Bano, a 73-year-old woman was divorced by triple talaq and was denied maintenance. The district courts, high courts as well as the supreme court which was approached by her husband to turn over the previous judgments, gave the judgement in her Favour under the “maintenance of wives, children and parents” provision (Section 125) of the All-India Criminal Code, which is applicable to citizens irrespective of their religions. However, this case sparked serious discussions in the country and under the pressure of all Muslim leaders, the government of India passed the Muslim women act 1986, rendering the section 125 of All India Criminal code inapplicable on the Muslim women.

To curb such arising problems, the current ruling party of India and the government of India have put forth the proposal of Uniform civil code. Uniform civil code is a national civil code that would be applied universally to all members of society, regardless of their faith, and would imply that all groups would be treated equally under it. The constitution of India, under article 44 of directive principles of state policies directs the state to provide for a uniform civil code applying to all the citizens of India. Part IV, Article 44 of the Constitution states that “The State shall endeavor to secure the citizen a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”.

Many other cases, such as Sarla Mudgal vs union of India and Shayra Bano vs union of India have highlighted the necessity of implementing the uniform civil code all over the country.

The history of uniform civil codes dates to the colonial era when The Lex Loci Report of October 1840 suggested that there should be a unification criminal laws all over the country, but the Hindu and the Muslim laws were kept away from codifications. The queen in 1859 proclaimed non-interference in the customary and religious laws of the Indians. The post colonial era was more open to changes and developments in the Hindu personal laws. However, the Muslim laws still remained untouched and so did the Christianity, Parsis and other minority religious laws.

Even if the application of uniform civil codes will bring transparency and for all the citizens of India, it surely comes with different debates. The proposed bill of uniform civil code demands equal rights of sons and daughters in the property, unified marriage laws, monogamy and uniformity over other laws related to the institution of marriage, adoption and property inheritance. This would mean little to no change in the Hindu society as these changes were already adopted in the Hindu personal laws.

 However, the Muslim society, various tribes having different laws would have change in their status as they generally follow religious scriptures and age-old customary practices. 

The Muslims see uniform civil code as encroachment to their personal laws and rights. They are highly against the enactment of uniform civil code which would deny their certain rights. Muslim women are however in Favour of the uniform civil code as this would reform the archaic personal laws of Muslims—which allow unilateral divorce and polygamy. The tribals see this as a way to wipe out their great heritage and well-preserved culture of the tribal laws. Many critics of uniform civil code also believe that this unification and codification of personal laws would destroy the diversity of the country in which it has taken pride in since independence. 

Currently goa is the state where the uniform civil code has been applicable in the form of goa civil code which makes single civil law applicable to all citizens. The supreme court of India highly demands uniform civil code so that a single law would be applicable to each citizen and thus the rule of law would be supreme and not that of any personal law.

Uniformity in laws, especially those pertaining to the matters of the familial institutions, is essential in a diversified country like India, where people already have the freedom of expression have as well as religion, to curb certain malpractices which people conduct in name of “personal laws”. Certain relief, however, which does not cause any sort of harm or loss to any other individual can be given to certain societies. People should be educated in order to understand the benefits of the uniform civil code rather than them going with the crowd.

The implementation of uniform civil code on such a huge population with variations is highly complex and full of intricates. The work therefore should be done with full planning and research and with the support of the citizens to whom this law would be applicable.


In conclusion, India’s proposal for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a big step toward guaranteeing equality and consistency in the law throughout a heterogeneous and diversified country. The necessity for a unified legal framework that goes beyond individual religious practices is brought to light by the conflicts that arise when personal religious rules and civil laws coexist, as demonstrated by significant cases like the Shah Bano case. Even if the UCC’s adoption is expected to increase consistency and openness, there is strong resistance to it from a number of religious communities who see it as an attack on their rights and customs.

The UCC controversy brings to light the difficult balancing act that must be struck between protecting cultural diversity and guaranteeing justice and equal rights for all people. The benefits of having a standard civil code are demonstrated by Goa’s successful implementation of one. But to resolve concerns and win broad support, India’s move to a UCC will need careful planning, thorough study, and strong public education.

The task facing India as it moves toward modernity is to create a UCC that upholds the principles of justice, equality, and the rule of law while still honoring the nation’s rich cultural legacy. In order to establish a just and equitable legal system for everyone, the government, courts, and citizens must work together on the obviously complicated and nuanced path towards a UCC.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Which states have UCC in India?

As of now, Uttarakhand and goa are the states were the UCC has been implemented. UCC in goa was implemented by Portugues in 1867 itself.

  1. Is implementation of UCC constitutionally valid?

Yes, under part 4, article 44 under Directive principles of state policies (DPSP) of the constitution, the implementation of UCC is clearly constitutional.

  1. Which laws are affected by the UCC?

The personal laws of different religions would be affected by the implementation of UCC. 

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