UCC: instrument for the promotion of equality and justice for all citizens

(Mains GS 2 : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)


  • Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for the enactment of a UCC, pointing out the anomaly of having varying laws for different categories of citizens.

Need of UCC:

  • India, being a diverse nation, is home to many religions, each with its distinct personal laws governing marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession. 
  • It would be accurate to say that the absence of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) has only served to perpetuate inequalities and inconsistencies in our land of rich diversity. 
  • In fact, this has been a hindrance in the nation’s progress towards social harmony, economic and gender justice.

Constitutional provision:

  • Article 44 contained in part IV of the Constitution says that the state “shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.
  • Part IV of the Constitution outlines the Directive Principles of State Policy, which, while not enforceable or justiciable in a court of law, are fundamental to the country’s governance.
  • Thus, Article 44, in a sense, is the Constitutional mandate which requires the state to enact a UCC that applies to all citizens cutting across faiths, practices and personal laws.

View of founding fathers:

  • Babasaheb Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, had made a strong case in the Constituent Assembly for framing a UCC. He stressed the importance of a UCC in ensuring gender equality and eradicating prevailing social evils.
  • Member Naziruddin Ahmad argued that certain civil laws in all communities were “inseparably connected with religious beliefs and practices”.
  • While he was not against the idea of a uniform civil law, he argued that the time for that had not yet come, adding that the process had to be gradual and not without the consent of the concerned communities.
  • Member K.M. Munshi however, rejected the notion that a UCC would be against the freedom of religion as the Constitution allowed the government to make laws covering secular activities related to religious practices if they were intended for social reform.
  • He advocated for the UCC, stating benefits such as promoting the unity of the nation and equality for women. He said that if personal laws of inheritance, succession and so on were seen as a part of religion, then many discriminatory practices of the Hindu personal law against women could not be eliminated.

Supreme Court on UCC:

  • The Supreme Court in various judgments has called for the implementation of the UCC.
  • In its Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum judgement of 1985, where a divorced Muslim woman demanded maintenance from her former husband, the apex court while deciding whether to give prevalence to the CrPc or the Muslim personal law, called for the implementation of the UCC.
  • The Court also called on the government to implement the UCC in the 1995 Sarla Mudgal judgement as well as in the Paulo Coutinho vs Maria Luiza Valentina Pereira case (2019).

Law Commission on UCC:

  • In 2018, the Law Commission submitted a consultation paper on the reform of family law which stated that a unified nation did not necessarily need “uniformity”, adding that secularism could not contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
  • In fact, the term “secularism” had meaning only if it assured the expression of any form of difference, the Commission noted.
  • While saying that a UCC “is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage”, the report recommended that discriminatory practices, prejudices and stereotypes within a particular religion and its personal laws should be studied and amended.
  • The Commission suggested certain measures in marriage and divorce that should be uniformly accepted in the personal laws of all religions.
  • Some of these amendments include fixing the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18 years so that they are married as equals, making adultery a ground for divorce for men and women and simplifying the divorce procedure. 

Step in the right direction:

  • The UCC is, therefore, a step in the right direction, long overdue, to safeguard the fundamental rights of all citizens and reduce social inequalities and gender discrimination.
  • It should be seen and understood as an attempt at creating a unified legal framework that upholds the principles enshrined in the Constitution and reaffirmed by Supreme Court judgments.
  • The overarching objective is to ensure that there is no gender discrimination, everyone enjoys the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, and that the law of the land is uniform for every citizen in our country.
  •  It will serve as a powerful instrument for the promotion of equality and justice for all citizens. Seen in this light, every citizen should welcome it.
  • A UCC would eliminate discriminatory practices that deprive women of their rights and provide them with equal opportunities and protections. 
  • Our diverse society calls for a unified legal framework to foster social cohesion and national integration. 
  • The Constituent Assembly members recognised the existing challenges and stressed the need for a UCC to bridge the gaps and promote a sense of unity among diverse communities.


  • As Babasaheb Ambedkar and other learned members of the Constituent Assembly had proposed, uniformity in personal laws is essential for empowering women and ensuring gender equality in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance.
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