New Delhi: The issue of framing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will be placed for consideration before the 22nd Law Commission after it is constituted. The UCC aims to replace different personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of various religious communities, with a common set of rules governing every citizen of India.
The issue was considered by the 21st Law Commission, which sought the views of various stakeholders and met several religious groups on the matter. Its term ended in August 2018 and the 22nd Law Commission is yet to be constituted.
After the Centre revoked Article 370, there is speculation that the Narendra Modi government will start working on the UCC now. Ram temple at Ayodhya, Uniform Civil Code and revoking of Article 370 have been the Bharatiya Janata Party’s core issues for a long time. The BJP had promised to implement a Uniform Civil Code in its election manifesto (“Sankalp Patra”) for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Ram Janmabhumi title case is being heard by the Supreme Court on a daily basis.
A PIL filed in the Delhi High Court on UCC is being heard at present. A representative of the Law Commission informed the High Court that the issue of UCC will be placed before the 22nd Law Commission. The Court has listed the matter for further hearing on 27 August.
The court had earlier issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Law Commission of India, seeking their stand on a petition filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who has contended that the government has “failed” to put in place a Uniform Civil Code, as provided under Article 44 of the Constitution. While the Law Commission told the court in its reply that a consultation paper on Reform of Family Law had been released by the 21st Law Commission on the subject on its website, the Ministry of Home Affairs was yet to file its reply.
The petition says that Goa has a common civil code since 1965, which is applicable to all of its residents, and it is the only state to have this as of now. It has sought directions to the Centre “to constitute a judicial commission or a high-level expert committee to draft the Uniform Civil Code in the spirit of Article 44 of the Constitution within three months, while considering the best practices of all religions and sects, civil laws of developed countries and international conventions”.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Upadhyay said he was optimistic that the government would soon take steps in this direction. “I have requested the Court to direct the Law Commission to study the best tenets of different religions, take best practices from the civil codes of different countries and prepare a draft of the UCC so that there can be a healthy debate on it,” he said. He added that a Uniform Civil Code existed in countries such as the United States, Australia, China, Brazil, etc.
In his petition, Upadhyay has said: “Keeping in view the constitutional obligation of the Union Government to implement Article 44 of the Constitution, recent Judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of Triple Talaq and urgent need and benefits of a Common Civil Code for all the citizens of India, I humbly request you to constitute a High Level Expert Committee or a Judicial Commission or direct the Law Commission to draft a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens, considering the best practices of all the religions and sects, Civil Laws of the developed countries, international conventions in consonance with the Article 44 read with Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and publish it on the website for at least 30 days for comprehensive public debate and feedback before introducing it in Parliament.”