Govt stand: Personal law review only if ‘sizeable majority' seek change

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Govt stand: Personal law review only if ‘sizeable majority' seek change

  • With growing debate to review personal laws and have uniform civil code, Ministry of Law and Justice said that review of such laws can be undertaken when “sizeable majority” of the population seek amendment.

Personal laws in the country

  • In Goa, where Portuguese Civil Code of 1867 continues, Ministry pointed out that original law must have undergone changes over the years, and if it requires review, it must be looked into.
  • A committee visited Goa to study common family law relating to marriage, divorce, succession etc., and applicable to all religious communities including Hindu, Muslim and Christian.
  • Goa is the only state in India that has a uniform civil code regardless of religion, gender and caste.
  • It inherited Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 that is still applicable in the state even after it joined Indian Union in 1961.
  • In other parts of the country, different personal laws are applicable to different religious communities.
  • Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, the Parsi Marriage
  • Divorce Act, 1936 is applicable to matters related to Parsis
  • Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 for Christians and
  • Muslim Personal Law (Shariat Application), 1937 is applicable to Muslims in personal matters.

Unifrom Civil code

  • Article 44 of Constitution in Part IV which deals with DPSP states:
  • The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
  • Issue of uniform civil code has been subject of political debates and judicial scrutiny for a long time now.
  • Since family and succession laws are under concurrent jurisdiction of the Centre and states, a state government can bring in a state law, but uniform law across the country can only be enacted by Parliament.

Prelims take away

  • Unifrom Civil code
  • Part IV of the Constitution - DPSP
  • Accession of States in India
  • Arrival of Portugese in India