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uniform civil code towards gender justice

uniform civil code towards gender justice


Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a proposal that seeks to replace personal laws based on religious and cultural practices with a common set of civil laws that apply equally to all citizens of India. It aims to ensure gender justice, social equality, and national integration by providing a uniform legal framework for personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption, among others.

Legal Provision

The Indian legal system recognizes personal laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and other religious communities. These laws govern personal matters, including marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance, among others. However, these laws differ in many respects, such as age of marriage, divorce, and maintenance, among others. The Uniform Civil Code aims to address these disparities and provide a common set of laws that apply to all citizens regardless of their religious or cultural affiliations.

Personal Laws And Discrimination Against Women

On a clear analysis of all these personal laws, it becomes obvious that the women have been conferred on inferior status in most of the personal matters compared to the men. The following examples justify the statement.

 Hindu Law

Till the codification of Hindu Law in 1955 and 1956 the Hindu Women did not enjoy equal rights along with the Hindu men. Before 1955 polygamy was prevalent among the Hindus. The Hindu women could not hold any property as its absolute owner except in the case of Stridhana. She had only limited estate which was passed on to the heirs of the last full male owner called reversionary on her death. In the matter of adoption a Hindu woman had no right to adopt a child on her own. She could not be the natural guardian of her children during the life her husband. These examples are only illustrative in nature and not exhaustive.

Even though the Hindu law has been codified, certain discriminatory provisions still exist even today. For example a Hindu woman is not a coparcener in Hindu coparceners except in a few states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Consequently she is not entitled to claim a share in the coparcenary. Similarly she has no right to partition of a dwelling house even though she is a legal heir. Thus it is obvious that the codification of personal law of Hindus has not succeeded completely in eradicating the gender inequality.

 Muslim Women

In the Pre-Islamic Arabia, the women enjoyed a secondary status in all respects when compared to men. The advent of Islam has contributed much for the amelioration of Muslim women and alleviation of their problems. The Holy Quran gives equal rights to men and women and places women in a respectable position. However there are certain aspects in Islam that render the position of Muslim women especially the wives insecure and inferior.

A Muslim male is permitted conditionally to marry as many as four wives at a time. It is important to note that the polygamy among Muslim men is only permission but not a compulsion. The Shia Muslim male can contact muta marriages for an agreed period of time. There is no ceiling on the number of muta marriages that may be contracted by a Muslim male. In the matter of divorce the position of the Muslim women is the most inferior and insecure compared to others. Particularly the method of divorcing the wife by the husband by pronouncing triple ‘Talak’ is highly discriminatory. This is in spite of the clear message of Holy Quran.

In the matter of succession, a Muslim woman is discriminated against despite the assertion of certain Muslim scholars that the Islam in this regard is more progressive and liberal. The legal position is that when two scholars or residuary of opposite sex but of the same degree inherit the property of the deceased, the Muslim male gets twice the share of the female. For example if brother and sister inherit the property as successors, the brother gets two shares whereas the sister gets only one share.

In the matter of maintenance also the divorced Muslim wife is not required to be maintained beyond the ‘Iddat’ period. The Criminal Procedure Code which imposes an obligation on a husband to maintain his wife including divorced wife until she maintains herself is a secular law and is applicable to all. There is a controversy as to whether a Muslim husband can be directed to maintain his divorced wife even beyond the Iddat period under the provisions of Section 125 of Cr. P.C. In the famous case of the Supreme Court speaking through Y. V. Chandrachud, the then Chief Justice held that Section 125 Cr. P.C. is applicable also to the Muslims and that even a Muslim husband also is liable to maintain his divorced wife beyond the Iddat period. Because of the controversy, the parliament has passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to overrule the judgment in Shah Bano case. The effect of this Act is that a Muslim husband is not liable to maintain his divorced wife beyond the Iddat period, unless both the spouses submit to the court at the appropriate time that they would like to be governed by Cr. P.C. However, in the case of Danial Latif Vs. Union of India, (2001) 7 SCC 740, the Supreme Court Constitution Bench held that, “where the constitutional validity of the Act of 1986 was challenged, and upheld that a Muslim husband is liable to make reasonable and fair provision for the future of the divorced wife which obviously includes her maintenance as well even beyond the Iddat period must be made within the iddat period under section 3(1) (a) of the Act. It was therefore categorically held that the liability of a Muslim husband to his divorced wife arising under section 3(1) (a) of the Act to pay maintenance is not confined to the Iddat period.

Similarly, among the Christians and Parsi Women also, there is disparity in the rights of the women as compared to the men.

Constitution Provision

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution directs the State to endeavor to secure a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens, but it is not binding. The State is yet to implement a uniform civil code, citing opposition from religious groups and communities who fear that it may dilute their religious and cultural practices. However, the Supreme Court of India has held that a Uniform Civil Code is essential for ensuring gender justice and social equality.

Judicial Opinion and Uniform Civil Code

The judiciary in India has taken note of the injustice done to the women in the matters of many personal laws. It has been voicing its concern through a number of judgments indicating the necessity to have uniformity in personal matters of all the citizens. In the case of Mohd. Ahamed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum AIR 1985 SC 945 pertaining to the liability of a Muslim husband to maintain his divorced wife beyond iddat period, who is not able to maintain herself, the Supreme Court held that Section 125 Cr. P. C which imposes such obligation on all the husbands is secular in character and is applicable to all religions.

In Ms. Jordan Deigndeh vs. S.S. Chopra, D Chinappa Reddy, J. speaking for the court referred to the observations of Chandrachud, C.J. in Shah Bano’s case and observed as under: “The present case is yet another event which focuses on the immediate and compulsive need for a uniform civil code. The totally unsatisfactory state of affairs consequent on the lack of uniform civil code is exposed by the facts of the present case.


The Uniform Civil Code is an essential step towards gender justice and social equality in India. It seeks to ensure that all citizens have equal rights and opportunities under the law, regardless of their religion or cultural affiliations. However, its implementation requires a careful consideration of the concerns and interests of all stakeholders, including religious communities, women, and other marginalized groups. The government and civil society must work together to address these concerns and create a common set of laws that are fair, just, and equitable for all citizens.