India has been debating for a Uniform Civil Code for a long, but the population still seems to be divided over the issue. But at this juncture, would be right for India to do away with the concept of personal laws? Before we start drawing conclusions over the matter, we have to understand the fabric of India, to have a better perspective of its benefits or consequences. Now, India has been an independent secular country since 15 August 1947 and at its very inception, the then leaders understood that everyone, every religion, and community would have its own freedom within its territory. The framers of our constitution and even the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors felt that India was not ready for a UCC as it has the most diverse population in terms of culture, religion, and lifestyle. They, therefore, probably felt that the matter was best to be rested and discussed at a later time.
The Bhartiya Janata Party has been, time and again bringing up the UCC in recent times. According to its leaders, it is about time for implementing the one nation, one law UCC across the country. The BJP has even promised a UCC in their last poll manifesto and given that two of its promises have been delivered (Ram Temple and the abolition of Article 370), it may be only a matter of time before India witnesses a UCC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the mandate, the ability, and also willingness to bring the UCC, he only needs to build a political consensus. The opposition, however, is against the UCC in the country. They have valid reasons to be too, for decades now India has seen religions flourish and co-exist in harmony despite their diversities. Many religions and tribal communities in the country have their own personal laws that are still in practice. With the introduction of UCC, the distinct identity of these communities will gradually fade away. Already, over the years, much of the cultural identity of many communities have been lost to date. India also has a great cultural diversity as people of different origins and given its history, it becomes immensely difficult to bring all these big and small communities under one uniformity forcefully.
While the UCC does seem to sound wonderful, nothing can be wrong with bringing everyone under one law system. But the facts speak otherwise! India is geographically, culturally, and socially very diverse, hence, two or more communities may not agree on the same matter. Or perhaps, they have a very different way of life; like a Bodo in Assam and a Malayali in Kerela; making the social structure of both the communities quite opposite. Now the same law may be beneficial to a Malayali but may not be the same to a Bodo. Having said this, there are many flaws within the personal laws of several communities in India. Thus, a sensible approach would be to do away with the flaws in the personal laws in the country than to change the entire laws that have been governing them for decades now. The price is just worth too much to pay!