Uniform Civil Code

2020 FEB 12

Preliminary   > Constitution   >   Indian Constitution   >   DPSPs


While hearing a matter relating to properties of a Goan, the Supreme Court described Goa as a “shining example” with a Uniform Civil Code, observed that the founders of the Constitution had “hoped and expected” a Uniform Civil Code for India but there has been no attempt at framing one.


  • Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.
  • However, Article 37 of the Constitution itself makes it clear the DPSP “shall not be enforceable by any court”. Nevertheless, they are “fundamental in the governance of the country”. This indicates that although our constitution itself believes that a Uniform Civil Code should be implemented in some manner, it does not make this implementation mandatory.

Status of Personal Law in India

  • Personal law subjects like marriage, divorce, inheritance come under Concurrent list.
  • Hindu personal laws have been by and large secularized and modernized by statutory enactments.
  • The Hindu personal laws (that apply also to the Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists) have been codified by the Parliament in 1956
  • This Code Bill has been split into four parts:
  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  • The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
  • The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
  • The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
  • On the other hand, Muslim personal laws are still primarily unmodified and traditional in their content and approach.
  • The Shariat law of 1937 governs the personal matters of all Indian Muslims in India.
  • It clearly states that in matters of personal disputes, the State shall not interfere and a religious authority would pass a declaration based on his interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith.
  • Apart from it, Christians and Jews are also governed by different personal laws.

Present Secular Laws in India

  • CrPC: In India, we have a criminal code that is equally applicable to all, irrespective of religion, caste, gender and domicile.
  • Special Marriage Act, 1954: Its objective is to provide a secular legislation under which individuals from two separate communities can solemnize their marriage, thus liberating people from the traditional coercive requirements of marriage under separate personal laws.
  • Uniform Civil Law in Goa: Goa is the only state in India that has uniform civil code regardless of religion, gender, caste. Goa has a common family law. In Goa Hindu, Muslim, Christians all are bound with the same law related to marriage, divorce, succession.

How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?

  • Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion; Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”; Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture.
  • An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to fundamental rights, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights
  • In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting Uniform Civil Code in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote. By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of fundamental rights and therefore the Uniform Civil Code was made less important than freedom of religion.

Prelims Question

Q. Consider the following statements regarding Uniform Civil Code:
1.Although our constitution believes that a Uniform Civil Code should be implemented in some manner, it does not make this implementation mandatory.
2.Goa is the only Indian state to have a UCC in the form of common family law.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a)1 only
b)2 only
c)Both 1 and 2
d)Neither 1 nor 2

Answer to the Prelims Question