Why Uniform Civil Code failed to become a reality? Asks Supreme Court

Instigating fresh discussions on Uniform Civil Code, the country’s highest court on Friday asked the central government despite the repeated demands from the court why there were no attempts for Uniform Civil Code. The court criticized that although a positive test on the UCC was included in Article 44 of the Constitution, no efforts have been made to transform it into reality. The court’s observations came while deciding a legal issue of succession to a property filed by a Goan.

“It is interesting to note that whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard,” the bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose highlighted.

“There has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country despite exhortations of this court in the case of Mohd Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano and Sarla Mudgal and Others vs Union of India and Others,” the court said pointing out to Hindu laws codified in 1956.

While the famous Shah Bano case on maintenance rights of Muslim women was decided by the top court in 1982, the Sarla Mudgal verdict in 1995 talked about uniformity in laws for all the citizens. The Sarla Mudgal case, which deals with the issue of bigamy and conflict between the personal laws existing on matters of marriage, is considered as a landmark verdict highlighting the need for a UCC.

The bench cited Goa as a “shining example” where the UCC was in vogue irrespective of the religion of its citizens. It narrated how the concept of joint matrimonial property ensured equal division in cases of divorce. “Muslim men whose marriages are registered in Goa cannot practice polygamy. Further, even for followers of Islam there is no provision for verbal divorce,” the court pointed out.

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