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‘Ek Desh, Ek kanun’, must be implemented in India

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Diganta Chakraborty
Diganta Chakraborty
West Bengal based writer and columnist. Author of 'Manishi Gatha', 'Jeman Chhilo Amar Desh Bharatbarsha'& 'Prabandha Chaynika' . Jagran Josh Awardee'23

Uniform civil code or Ek desh Ek kanun. That means the same law for all the citizens of different communities living in a country. No one should be given any special privilege or deprived of anyone because of his religious reasons. This is exactly what the Indian Constitution says. Article 44 of the Constitution states that the State shall endeavour to enforce uniform civil laws for the citizens of the country.

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution aims to combat discrimination between vulnerable groups and to create a synergy between the numerous cultural groups that exist across the country. The uniform civil code issue was raised when India gained her independence. Then in 1948 there was a lot of controversy in the Indian Parliament.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar wanted to introduce an Uniform Civil Code in India, during the constitutional debates by getting inspired by the western world where such Uniform Civil Code already existed in societies, with the object of bringing uniformity and unity in society. But it was strongly opposed by Muslim fundamentalists like Poker Saheb and members from other religions. They were of the opinion that if a uniform civil code or the same law were introduced in one country, articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, which talked about religious freedom, would be violated.

Explaining the importance of uniform civil code, B.R. Ambedkar said, ” “I personally do not understand why religion should be given this vast, expansive jurisdiction, so as to cover the whole of life and to prevent the legislature from encroaching upon that field. After all, what are we having this liberty for? We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is so full of inequities, discrimination and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.”

Not only during the Constituent Assembly’s debate in pre-independence era but also in the post independence era also the topic of Uniform Civil Code has been in debate. In Shah Bano Case [Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum][2]:theConstitution Bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court, while deciding the case of maintenance of Muslim woman Shah Bano under section 125 Cr.P.C, was of the opinion that the Parliament should take steps to enact a Uniform Civil Code to bring uniformity in personal laws, from practice of the women status in society is getting degraded.

But due to criticism and opposition received to this judgment by some groups, the then Central Government enacted a separate law for maintenance of Muslim women namely ‘Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.’ During the judgment in this case, the Supreme Court also regretted that we have articles in the Constitution of India for uniform civil code but it is not applied in India.

Article 44 of the Constitution remains a dead article and has not been implemented. The Shah Bano incident is an important proof that the introduction of uniform civil code is very important for the protection of women and to eliminate social inequalities, as has been proved time and again through various incidents in the post-independence period.

Like the Shah Bano case, the verdict in ‘Shaira Bano vs Union of India’ case is the most important judgment in recent times where the Supreme Court has cited the need for uniform civil code. In this case, the constitutional validity of triple talaq in Muslim personal law is considered. In this case, a woman named Shaira Bano was divorced three times by her husband.

This practice is highly discriminatory because it is only allowed for men and does not require any consent of women, a man can divorce his wife only if he wants to. In this case, a five-judge bench of the apex court has declared the practice of triple talaq as unconstitutional. It has raised the concept of uniform civil code to eliminate such discriminatory laws.

India is a country where people of many religions live and all religions have their own personal laws. These personal laws are anyone’s own opinion and they mostly undermine women’s rights. The Uniform Civil Code basically means the integration of all personal laws into one law, so that every citizen can be governed equally without any discrimination. The main goal of the Uniform Civil Code is to govern all citizens equally in the sense of the Constitution within society and to administer the same civil laws. It should apply to all citizens, regardless of religion, race, or community.

We see how society is divided in the name of religion and community. So the main idea behind the imposition of uniform civil code is to treat every person equally with just and just laws. So the main idea behind the imposition of uniform civil code is to treat every person equally with just and just laws. In fact, the problem is that secularism in India means not interfering in matters of religion. That’s why there is so much discrimination under the guise of secularism. But this disparity cannot be allowed to continue for long, so it needs to be reconsidered.

It is seen that when the issue of implementation of uniform civil code comes up, people of several groups and political parties are very angry and even go to the movement. They are the ones who also join the movement when the Ram temple, which bears the tradition of ancient India, is rebuilt, because according to them, the construction of a temple in a secular state like India undermines the Constitution or gives priority to one religion.

My question to them is, in a secular state, is it not a violation of the Constitution to have religious laws in place, to give special privileges to any one community? It is clear from their duplicity that their aim is not to protect the dignity of the state but to gain political mileage through religious appeasement.

Uniform Civil Code will in the long run ensure Equality. While other personal laws have undergone reform, the Muslim law has not. It perhaps makes little sense to allow Muslims, for example, to marry more than once, but prosecute Hindus or Christians for doing the same. Therefore, there is the demand for a uniform civil code for all religions. Also, UCC will help to promote Gender equality. Several liberals and women’s groups have argued that the uniform civil code gives women more rights.

We all know that secularism is reflected in the preamble of our Constitution. If the uniform civil code is implemented, all citizens of India will have to follow the same law, be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Sikhism. The Uniform Civil Code does not mean that people’s religious freedom will be undermined, it simply means that everyone will be treated equally. This is pure secularism. And that’s what’s desirable in a secular state.

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Diganta Chakraborty
Diganta Chakraborty
West Bengal based writer and columnist. Author of 'Manishi Gatha', 'Jeman Chhilo Amar Desh Bharatbarsha'& 'Prabandha Chaynika' . Jagran Josh Awardee'23
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