What brought a nation-state into existence was its argument to establish a modern society on the democratic values of equality, liberty & freedom. India also entered the modern democratic setup with the inculcation of progressive ideas in the Constitution. The most criticized & decaying ideas of the medieval period were its regressive religious practices. With the firm idea of reforming religious backwardness, the Indian constitution gave directives to the successive generation to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country.
BJP endeavors in fulfilling the constitutional obligation
Advocating for the implementation of constitutional obligation, Uttar Pradesh (UP) Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya has said “Everyone should demand and welcome UCC. The UP government is also thinking in this direction. We’re in favor of it & it is necessary for UP & the people of the country. This is also one of the main promises of BJP.”
Everyone should demand and welcome Uniform Civil Code. Uttar Pradesh govt is also thinking in this direction. We're in favour of it and it is necessary for UP and the people of the country. This is also one of the main promises of BJP: UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya in Lucknow pic.twitter.com/ry7SR2QzWR
— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) April 23, 2022
Earlier after taking the oath, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami in his first policy announcement had constituted a committee of experts for the implementation of UCC in the state.
We have decided to implement Uniform Civil Code in the state. The state cabinet unanimously approved that a committee (of experts) will be constituted at the earliest & it will implemented in the state. This will be the first state to do so: Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami pic.twitter.com/GJNAdk1XbF
— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) March 24, 2022
Former BJP president & Home Minister Amit Shah in Bhopal at the state’s BJP core committee meeting has hinted to work on the UCC. He said, “Issues like CAA, Ram Mandir, Article 370 & triple talaq have been resolved. Now it is time to focus on the UCC.”
The successive announcement to implement the UCC from the BJP ruling states gives a clear message that the central leadership has given a strong signal to fulfill the constitutional directives given to the coming generation.
UCC – A Constitutional Obligation
Under part 4 titled ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ Article 44 of the Indian Constitution provides for a uniform civil code for the citizens. Giving the directive to the succeeding political leadership, it states, “ The state shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
Although the Muslim members of the constituent assembly were against the implementation of UCC, Dr. Ambedkar’s tenacity to bring reform in personal laws of every religion culminated in the insertion of Article 44 in the Constitution.
Defending the personal laws during the constituent assembly debate on the UCC, Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib, a member of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) said, “for creating & augmenting harmony in the land it is not necessary to compel people to give up their personal law.”
Opposing the argument of members, Dr. Ambedkar said, “why should religion be given expansive jurisdiction which is full of inequities, discriminations, and other things, which conflict with fundamental rights.”
Reform in personal laws
Many religious reforms in the Hindu religious community were launched with the codification of laws related to marriage, adoption, divorce & succession. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, The Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, and The Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956 were statutory provisions that enacted the laws governing the Hindu community on modern democratic principles of life, liberty & equality.
But due to the strong opposition from minority communities & political appeasement of incumbent governments do not let modernity be introduced into the religion. Further, the decaying medieval philosophy of these religions indoctrinated the minds of succeeding generations which ultimately resulted in violent and extremist activities on the ground.
However, the endeavor of BJP states to secure Dr. Ambdekar’s dream & constitutional obligation to implement UCC will be a great leap forward in the socio-religious development of India. Further, it will be a life-saving medicine for the citizens of the country who are for years suppressed and ignored the backward religious obligation prescribed by the personal laws.