Kerala : Kerala High Court has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to seriously consider establishing a “Uniform Marriage Code” (UMC) across the country to promote the “common welfare and the good of spouses in matrimonial disputes”.
Significantly UMC is a part of the Uniform Civil code (UCC) which is a proposal to formulate and implement personal laws applicable to all citizens equally, irrespective of their religion, sex, gender and sexual orientation. Currently, the personal laws of various communities are based on their religious rules.
The HC bench comprising Justices A. Muhammed Mustaque and Shobha Annamma Eapen observed on December 9 that the existing law considers religion to differentiate parties in marital relations. Judges also observed that “the family court is now another battleground, adding to the agonies of parties seeking a divorce.” Therefore, the judges believe that it is high time the law changed.
Thus said the Court: “The time has come for a change in the law applicable to the parties on a common Uniform platform. In a secular country, legal paternalism should be founded on the common benefit of citizens rather than religion. The state’s concern must be to promote the welfare and the good of the citizens, and religion has no place in identifying the common good.”
The Court made the above observations while hearing the petition by a Christian couple who sought divorce under Section 10A of the Divorce Act. The couple got married according to religious customs in January this year. They took no time to realize that their wedding was a mistake. And they filed a joint petition for divorce in a Family Court in May. But, the Family Court did not accept the petition; it said a one-year separation after the marriage is required to file a petition under Section 10A of the Act.
Both parties approached High Court to challenge the above order. Since they were barred from filing the petition due to statute, the couple moved a write petition praying to declare that provision unconstitutional.
The High Court’s observation can be viewed as a clear-cut indication of the need for UCC for the entire country. If no UCC, people will suffer several issues like the couple mentioned above. It is a waste of time and energy for human beings. Moreover, religious obstacles create a lot of unnecessary and illogical stumbling blocks to peaceful life in a civilized society. Religion should not interfere in these matters. Its role should be limited ”to the business between man and his maker,” nothing else.
As an accidental coincidence of incidents, BJP’s Kirodi Lal Meena MP tabled the ”Uniform Civil Code Bill” in the Rajaya Sabha on December 9, 2022. UCC comes under Article 44 of the Constitution. It says the state shall endeavour to secure UCC for the citizens throughout the country.
Recently, the Supreme Court asked GoI to clarify its position regarding the possibility of introducing UCC. In October, GoI submitted its first affidavit before the CourtCourt supporting UCC. GoI contended that different civil codes inhibit national unity, and UCC divests personal law.
UCC is for formulating one law for Bharat, applicable to all communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, etc.
No doubt, the country is badly in need of UCC. This is the general mindset of the people, irrespective of religion. But, the priests and the clergy oppose it. When Triple Talaq was banned, Muslim women welcomed it with warmth and pleasure. They ignored what the clergy said. Interestingly, the clergy stands for Sharia rules instead of UCC for civil matters; the same people would not accept Sharia rules for criminal cases. If it is not a double standard, what on earth is it?