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In this blog post, Shantanu Pandey, a student of the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Punjab, describes and details the impact of the Unifrom Civil Code on Muslim Personal Law. 

In the present era, the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code is one of the most controversial issues which has been witnessed by the country. The Muslims are opposing the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code to a large extent. However, there is a lot of Muslim women groups who are supporting the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. With the coming of the Uniform Civil Code, thMuslim personal law would undergo a drastic change. Here are some of the things prevalent among Indian Muslims due to the personal law that would change with the implementation of the UCC.

 

The Triple Talaq

Divorce under Muslim law has always been a primary concern. There has been a great uproar and protest among the various religious groups to abolish the practice of triple talaq which is being considered to be a customary practice under the Muslim personal law. Many Indians believe this practice to be unjust and against the principle of equality.

This practice gives the power to the man to divorce his wife just by uttering the word talaq thrice. As a result of this practice, the number of divorce cases among the Muslims has increased, which has eventually caused this practice to be an issue of significant concern. This custom is considered to be against women and therefore it is being suggested by various activists and women groups that this practice is abolished. This custom is against legal principles and immoral in nature, anything against the constitutional principle would not and should not be considered a valid law or practice, be it a customary practice or a regular practice.

Uniform Civil Code and the Triple Talaq

With the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code, the practice of triple talaq would be abolished, and the dissolution of every marriage would take place through court proceedings. The petitions for separation filed in the court would deter Muslim men and women from remarriage as a second marriage is socially considered to be a taboo in India. The abolition of this practice of Triple Talaq would affect the Muslim personal law significantly and hence the opposition by the Muslims against the Implementation of the Uniform Civil Code.

 

Abolition of Polygamy

Polygamy is a very widespread practice under the Muslim law.  Many celebrities have converted to Islam in India to marry more than one woman. One of the major changes which the Muslim law would undergo with the coming of the Uniform Civil Code is that it would lead to the abolition of the practice of polygamy. Polygamy as a practice is generally considered to be a social evil in India. Abolition of such a practice would be a positive betterment to society.

Women being exploited and abused by the husband is one of the major drawbacks of this practice. Another major issue of concern for the Muslims is that on the abolition of this practice the Hindu Law would be imposed upon them.[1] However, it has been stated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee that the coming up of Uniform Civil Code would not impose Hindu law on any religion. On the contrary, the Uniform Civil Code would contain the essentials of all the religions.

 

Maintenance

With the advent of the ancient Muslim laws, maintenance has been a matter of primary concern for the spouses. Under the Muslim law, Muslim women can claim maintenance under the Muslim Women Protection Act 1986. However, a question of major concern was that whether Muslim women can claim maintenance under the code of criminal procedure. The case of Shah Bano Begum[2] has been considered the landmark judgment in consideration to this question. The court held that a Muslim woman who has been divorced by her husband is entitled to maintenance by her husband under section 125[3] of the CRPC. However, she had the right to claim maintenance not only during the iddat period but also after the completion of the iddat period. However, in the case of Denial Latifi Vs. Union of India[4] the court held that the provision regarding maintenance should be fair and reasonable and the constitutional validity of the Muslim Women’s Protection Act, 1986 was also upheld in this case.

Uniform Civil Code and Maintenance 

The impact of Uniform Civil Code would lead to a positive influence on the Muslim personal law. It would allow the Muslim women to claim maintenance for her lifetime. However, this issue is facing opposition and uproar by the Muslims on the ground that it would affect their personal law and the Hindu law would supersede over their personal law if the Uniform civil code comes into force. However, it has already been portrayed that the Uniform Civil Code is a secular legislation in nature and it would not affect the personal law of any religion to any extent.

 

Adoption

Adoption is being considered to be one of the major issues existing in the country. The personal law of no other religion allows the couples to follow the practice of adoption except the Hindu law. The procedure relating to adoption under the Hindu law is governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.[5] As a statutory provision, the Muslim personal law does not allow the practice of adoption. The Muslim couples cannot legally claim to be the parents of the adoptive child. The implementation of Uniform Civil Code for governing the laws relating to adoption would lead to considerable and drastic changes under the Muslim personal law.

One of the most significant changes which would occur if the Uniform Civil Code comes into force is that the Guardianship and Wards Act, 1890 would be abolished. This would lead to major changes in the law of adoption, such as:

  1. A Muslim woman would be allowed to take a child in adoption.
  2. The couples can legally claim the status to be the adoptive parents of the child who is being adopted by them.
  3. On adoption, the child is entitled to all the rights given to the natural person.
  4. After being taken into adoption by the adoptive parents, a child breaks all the ties from the family in which he was born, and he becomes entitled to inherit the property of his adoptive father as being a natural child.

Succession and Inheritance

Succession and inheritance are a matter of prime concern among the issues that are existing under the law. The provisions regarding succession and inheritance differ from one another. Under the Muslim law in the case of intestate inheritance, the sons will receive a share as equal to the shares of two daughters. The mother of the children would be entitled to one-sixth share in the property of the deceased husband. Under the Muslim law, the mother has the right to claim maintenance from her child in the where case she is unable to maintain herself. Under the Muslim law, the illegitimate child legitimate to a share in the property of the father. However, under the Sunni law, an illegitimate child is entitled to a share in the property from his mother’s side, though, Shia law does not permit a share in the property of any of the parent by the child. Under the Hindu Succession Act, the rules regarding the succession are being stated in a different manner. They are being grouped into various classes of heirs, and there are changes which affect the working of the law to a great extent.

Uniform Civil Code and Succession and Inheritance 

The implementation of Uniform Civil Code would lead to drastic changes in the Muslim law, like:

  1. It would result in a codified law enforced in the context of rules of inheritance and succession.
  2. A stable structure of share would be established to govern the sharing procedure.
  3. Illegitimate children and adoptive children would also be to a share in the father’s property.

 

Marriage, no more a contractual obligation

Muslim marriages are considered to be a contractual obligation for the parties r.Under the Muslim personal law, marriage is being solemnised between the two parties, only when there is a proposal being made by one party and the same is being accepted by the other. Marriages, under the Muslim personal law, takes place by a contract being entered between the parties. The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code would render this practice of marriage being a contract to be abolished.

 

Registration of marriage compulsory

One of the significant changes which to be witnessed with the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code would be the fact that the registration of marriage would be made compulsory. With the implementation of the Uniform Civil code, it would be an obligation for the parties to the marriage to get their marriage registered in the register. This would further facilitate the authenticity of the wedding and would act as a shred of evidence for the solemnization of marriage between the parties.

 

Abolition of practice of iddat

One of the significant changes which the Muslim personal law would undergo with the coming up of Uniform Civil Code is the fact that the Uniform Civil Code would lead to the abolition of the practice of iddat. Iddat under the Muslim law is a practice which is being performed by the Muslim women as a result of divorce from her husband or the death of her husband. A uniform code for governing the civil laws would automatically lead to the abolition of the practice of iddat.

 

Secularism vs. Religious Conflict

The Uniform Civil Code is being considered to be the need of the hour. After India had become independent from the British rule, the parliament stressed upon the necessity of a standard code to be established for governing the secular matters which include marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession with a view of bringing national integrity and unity among the diverse religious groups which are existing in the country. The implementation of Uniform Civil Code has been opposed by the Muslims on the ground that it would violate the provisions of their personal law and would also violate the right of the minorities to practice and profess any religion. The main aim of the Uniform Civil Code is to bring about national integrity without violating the rights of the citizens of India. Article 44 of the Constitution of India states that the state shall endeavour to secure for its citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. It has been said that under the ambit of Uniform Civil Code, the state shall not interfere with the individual rights of the citizens of the country.

 

 


 

References:

[1] “Gauri Kulkarni, Uniform Civil Code, Legally services India.”

[2] 1985 SCR(3)844

[3] Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure

[4] Daniel Latifi Vs. UOI 2001 case

[5]“ Almas Sheikh, Legal Laws governing adoption in India.”

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