Dispelling Suspicions: How the Uniform Civil Code Benefits the Hindu Community

  • Himanshu Ranjan
  • 12:31 PM, 05 Aug 2023

Read Time: 10 minutes

On June 14th, the 22nd Law Commission of India, chaired by former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, issued a public notice seeking views and ideas from the public and recognized religious organizations on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Just two weeks later, during a public rally, Prime Minister Modi strongly advocated for the UCC, criticizing opposition parties for allegedly instigating minority communities against it. As the nation prepares for the 18th Lok Sabha election, the UCC is expected to dominate the electoral debate throughout India.

The Law Commission's public notification stirred a political controversy, prompting scholars and legal pundits to express their views on how the UCC might affect minority groups, particularly Muslims. Conversely, concerns have been raised regarding the potential unfavorable impact of the UCC on the majority Hindu community. These concerns stem from a perception of historical injustice caused by the first elected government of India, which codified and standardized Hindu personal laws in the 1950s while refraining from making similar changes to the personal laws of other religions. Prime Minister Nehru, at that time, declared, “We do not dare touch the Muslims because they are in a minority, and we do not wish the Hindu majority to do it. These are personal laws and will remain so for the Muslims unless they desire to change them.” In this piece, we aim to address these concerns by highlighting how the UCC can equally benefit the majority Hindu community.

Firstly, the interest of the Hindu community is aligned with that of the nation. Hindus have consistently prioritized the welfare of Bharat Bhumi (the sacred land) and have never placed their interests in isolation. Implementing the UCC will bring reforms to the country's personal laws, resulting in a positive effect on Bharat's legal system. Uniformity in personal laws will bring clarity, improve efficiency, and enhance access to justice for all members of society. While the primary beneficiaries of the UCC are all Bharatiyas (Indian citizens), the Hindu community will also significantly benefit.

Secondly, the UCC acts as a preventive measure against demographic imbalance. By prohibiting practices such as polygamy, unilateral divorce, and child marriage, which are often used to achieve population growth and create demographic imbalances, the UCC effectively combats forces that endanger the Hindu community.

Thirdly, the UCC can ensure a uniform code for religious and charitable endowments. Currently, Hindu temples are under government control, unlike religious places of other faiths, which operate according to their personal laws. This disparity causes immense distress for the Hindu community. Efforts to liberate temples from state control have yet to be realized. An ideal UCC should include uniform laws on religious endowments, granting Hindu mutts, mandirs, and ashrams the same level of independence enjoyed by religious places of other faiths.

Fourthly, the UCC can serve as a potent instrument to counter deceitful religious conversions for the sake of marriage. Unlawful conversions often involve perpetrators hiding their religious identity and exploiting Hindu women under the guise of personal laws. The UCC should include provisions for compulsory marriage registration to verify identities and allow appropriate government officials to prosecute those who attempt exploitation through identity masking. Additionally, fair and just divorce laws would prevent perpetrators from simply abandoning victims.

Fifthly, the UCC can bring essential reforms to Hindu personal laws. Currently, separate schemes of succession for Hindu males and females create confusion and contradict the principle of equality. Similarly, provisions related to guardianship, adoption, and maintenance require revisiting from a modern perspective.

Lastly, the multiplicity of Hindu personal laws creates confusion and roadblocks for Hindu litigants. For instance, issues related to the maintenance of a Hindu wife are governed simultaneously by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, 1956, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. This complexity creates problems for the parties involved. Furthermore, Hindus are governed by many secular laws that may not be applicable to other religions. For example, laws related to wills are governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925, specifically for Hindus, but not for Muslims. The UCC would address these anomalies and provide a resolution.

In conclusion, the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) can bring significant benefits to both the nation and the Hindu community. To move forward, a collaborative approach is crucial. Dialogue with religious communities and legal experts, along with education and awareness campaigns, will address concerns and ensure a comprehensive and inclusive UCC that respects cultural practices and upholds constitutional values.

As we progress towards the UCC, let us remember that unity in diversity is India's strength. By embracing this diversity and working towards a fair and inclusive UCC, we can create a brighter future, upholding justice, equality, and religious freedom for all.

(Views of the Author are personal & Lawbeat holds no responsibility for them.)