India wants to bring Uniform Civil Code into the country. Current Narendra Modi Government has mentioned in their manifesto as well for the implementation for the UCC. One of the state in Goa has already implemented this.

Question :

What is Uniform Civil Code and Why is it tough for the government to introduce UCC to other states in India like Goa ?


India is a culturally divided country, especially along religious lines. For things like property rights, legality of marriage, and other civil matters (as opposed to criminal law), citizens are subject to different sets of laws dependent upon their religious affiliation, or other community designation.

The UCC is a proposal to establish a single set of laws for all citizens and residents of India, regardless of religion or community; essentially bringing their civil code's jurisdiction in line with that of their criminal code.

The benefits of this are numerous but there's three main points:

  1. Simplicity - A single set of laws makes determining what laws apply to a given person much easier to determine, and everyone can go about with the same set of expectations.
  2. Sovereignty - As it stands now, civil law in India is dependent upon religious traditions, rather than the authority of the Indian government. Establishing a UCC reinforces that law is the domain of the government of India, instead of religious authorities which may or may not draw influences from foreign lands.
  3. Anti-discrimination/Anti-oppression - A big selling point for the UCC among its proponents is that this will help to outlaw and curtail oppression of vulnerable minorities who, because of their religious affiliation, etc., are currently not entitled to civil law protections, despite being full Indian citizens.

The downsides are largely dependent on who you are and how well the status quo is working for you, but a period of legal uncertainty and instability will result as would happen from any major change in the legal landscape. This new system will take some getting used to.

Most other democratic nations, and a whole host of other nations besides, have something that looks like the UCC (though they don't call it that, per se). In most nations you have a single set of laws that applies to all citizens/residents, with occasional carve-outs for certain positions or conditions. India's civil law lassez faire is one of the relatively unique things about India.

As for why it is difficult, any major overhaul of an existing status quo is, politically speaking, a tall order. The fact that one of the earliest proponents for a uniform civil law was the British Crown likely doesn't help the optics here, either, however.

  • 2
    The US does have a UCC; it might be worth mentioning it briefly, especially how it is a guideline rather than binding law. Would India's UCC similarly be a guideline or would it be binding?
    – phoog
    Aug 26 at 18:27
  • @phoog It's not just the US, so I feel like it's covered under "most other democratic nations..." The idea that the law should apply equally is fairly common. As to the specifics of India's UCC, it's still very much a proposal, and so subject to changes in a big way. I don't feel comfortable trying to summarize the many different understandings of it. Aug 26 at 18:29
  • 1
    But the US UCC doesn't apply equally (and in fact, now that I think of it, the US UCC is the "uniform commercial code," not the "uniform civil code," so maybe it's irrelevant). What federal countries currently have a uniform civil code?
    – phoog
    Aug 26 at 18:34
  • @phoog The 5th and 14th Amendments (aka the due process clause) apply to civil cases in the United States - this establishes the constitutional principle that a citizen of the United States is a citizen of the United States and enjoys equal legal status as such with other citizens. I thought you were talking about this in your original comment. (citation: law.justia.com/constitution/us/amendment-14/…) Aug 26 at 18:40
  • @phoog As to other nations, one example is the European Convention on Human Rights (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) wherein signatories grant various rights - many of which are civil - to "human beings" which has similar effect. Aug 26 at 18:47

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