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NHRC Chairperson Justice Arun Mishra says time to adopt Uniform Civil Code, calls it essence of right to equality

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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairperson Justice Arun Mishra has made a strong case for the adoption of Uniform Civil Code (UCC), saying that UCC discussed the right to equality in essence.

Speaking to India Legal in an exclusive interview, Justice Mishra said that everyone was free to follow their personal laws and no one was prevented from following their religion.

He said the adoption of Uniform Civil Code was mentioned in directive principles of the India Constitution too. “Its 75 years of Independence now, and we should adopt Uniform Civil Code,” he added.

Justice Mishra said, “Gender justice is a key component of the United Nations’ declaration of human rights. Respect for women has long been rooted in our culture.”

He added that implementing UCC would help in protecting the rights of women as well.

As per Mishra, Hindu law has seen reforms that were supportive to women over time, including the Right to Property Act of 1937, the rules governing divorce in 1956, and the Right to Inherit of 2005. Muslim women have also spoken out against the prejudice in their personal laws in a similar manner.

“Our forefathers gave us the directive to adopt a uniform civil code, but even after 75 years of independence, we have not done so. The United States of America, other nations and even our own state of Goa have UCC.

“The issue is that there are two ways in which we should see personal rules pertaining to equality. The first is that temporal rights like property rights and religious beliefs ought to be kept apart. The second are temporary rights or the equality rights, which form the basis of human rights and fall under the pruview of UCC,” he added.

Justice Mishra said in recent times, the adoption of UCC has become a major issue. Many states have undertaken exercise to formulate the model of UCC. Article 44 of the Constitution of India calls for a Uniform Civil Code, but since it falls in Directive Principles of State Policy Category, it is not legally enforceable.

In August, a five-judge Constitution Bench had impleaded the NHRC, the National Commission of Women and the National Commission of Minorities as parties in a batch of petitions challenging the Muslim Personal Law practices such as polygamy and Nikah Halala.

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