Uniform Civil Code- The 12th of Never

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Idealism is like a castle in the air if is not based on the solid foundation of social and political realism.

– Claude Mckay

The makers of the constitution were well acquainted with the social fabric of the nation and that was precisely why they made an arrangement under Article 44, wherein it was provided that the state shall “endeavour” to implement a uniform civil code in the country when the time seems right. Such a code would have uniform laws that manages personal relations like adoption, marriage, divorce and inheritance, has been debated for a long time. This debate gained impetus recently when the issue of Triple Talaq and case of Shyra Bano came to light. Consequently, the Centre asked the Law Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Balbir Singh Chauhan, to examine the implications of enacting a uniform civil code.

The demand for a uniform civil code seems more or less a desire to polarize the religious communities of the nation. The country seemed to have forgotten the difference between ‘Equality’ and ‘Uniformity’.One main contention of the supporters for the implementation of a uniform code is that it would in some miraculous way eradicate practices that encourage gender discrimination and then women would finally be at an equal footing with men in a wedlock. I fail to understand how a uniform code would facilitate that. The Goan Uniform Code which is often cited to be one of the most illustrative examples of how a uniform code could be eventually implemented. What the supporters conveniently forget to mention is that even this code provides for Polygamy of “Gentile Hindu” man of Goa if his previous wife does not have any children before age 25 or if she does not have a male children by 30.This clearly shows how these laws too are gender insensitive.

When the country ratified the CEDAW (Convention  for Elimination of Discrimination against women) it did not attest section 16 which demanded that a uniform set of laws must govern the civil matters of the nation as the representatives of the country were well aware of the religious diversity of the nation. Now, coming back to the problem of insensitive laws for women in the nation. Let’s face it women in our country are not really appreciated and specially in a wedlock. The question we need to ask is, “Have we made any progress, whatsoever, since we burned them on pyre with their dead husbands” ?

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