Uniform Civil Code has seen lot of controversy right from drafting of Constitution. The representatives of Constituent Assembly from minority communities had expressed their apprehensions that the Code may infringe their fundamental right to religion. Whereas many were of the opinion that it would help integrate the country. That was the reason that it was kept in Directive Principles of State Policy.
The issue of the Uniform Civil Code came before the Apex Court in Shah Bano, Sarla Mudgal, Lily Thomas, Shabnam Hashmi, and Jose Paulo Coutinho cases. The Court stressed the necessity to frame Uniform Civil Code as it could help in integrating the country. While doing so, the Court was aware of the apprehensions expressed by the framers of the Constitution and the mandate to place in Directive Principles of State Policy.
In the past, there have been instances where two religious communities were being governed under one law in matters relating to succession. The live examples in India, where the matters relating to Uniform Civil Code are governed outside the personal laws, happen to be the Portuguese Civil Code, which is applicable in Goa, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, and the Special Marriages Act, 1954.
Even though the judiciary cannot direct the Legislature to enact the Code except by stressing the need for it, still the observations coming from the Apex Court have to be seriously considered by the Parliament. Small steps can be taken progressively towards the achievement of this goal. There is a need for Parliament to take the call.