Law Commission says uniform civil code not desirable

Woman should get an equal part of the property gained after marriage upon divorce.

The Law Commission on Friday suggested the introduction of new grounds for 'no-fault' divorce, changes to provisions on alimony and maintenance, and ending uncertainty and inequality in the age of consent for marriage. 

But it said a uniform civil code was "neither necessary nor desirable" at this stage.

The law panel on the last day of its chairman Justice B S Chauhan issued a consultation paper as it had little time at hand to bring out a comprehensive report.

Freedom of religion as also to propagate it must be strongly protected in a secular democracy, but it is important to bear in mind that a number of "social evils" such as the practice of triple talaq and child marriage should not be allowed to take refuge under 'religious customs', it said.

The paper titled 'Reform of Family Law' stated, “to seek their protection under the law as religion would be a grave folly.”

The commission said the diversity of Indian culture should be celebrated, but specific groups or weaker sections of the society must not be "disprivileged in the process".

"Resolution of this conflict does not mean the abolition of difference. This commission has therefore dealt with laws that are discriminatory rather than providing a uniform civil code which is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage," the document said.

The issue of uniform civil code is vast, "and its potential repercussions, untested in India," it felt.

"Therefore, after detailed research and a number of consultations held over the course of two years, the commission is presenting its consultation paper on reform of family laws in India," it said.

The law ministry had on June 17, 2016, asked the panel to "examine matters in relation to uniform civil code".

On the issue of equal rights for women, it said, there is a need to recognise the role of woman in a household and regardless of her financial contribution, she should get an equal part of the property gained after marriage upon divorce.

It said all personal and secular laws, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Special Marriage Act, 1954, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 (for Christians), the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 can be amended to reflect this change.

The panel also suggested that 18 years should be the minimum legal age for men and women alike to get married, saying the insistence on recognising different ages of marriage between consenting adults must be abolished. Currently, the minimum age for men is 21 years and 18 years for women to get married.

Under the Hindu law, the paper discusses problems with provisions such as restitution of conjugal rights and suggests the inclusion of concepts such as 'community of property' of a married couple, the abolition of coparcenary and rights of illegitimate children.

Under the Muslim law, it discusses reform in inheritance law through codification of Muslim law on inheritance, while ensuring that the codified law is gender just.

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Law Commission says uniform civil code not desirable

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