Aparna Babu George* & Animesh Mishra**
A few weeks ago, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand created a stir when he promised to roll out the Uniform Civil Code in the state. In the backdrop of the hijab controversy that rocked certain districts of Karnataka, this instantly started the oft repeated debate on the UCC and its feasibility in the Indian context.
The debate and discourse around UCC began in the 19th century when the British, having acquired territory and armed themselves with revenue collection powers, felt the need to codify native laws for better governance. Though these deliberations led to a successful and complete codification of criminal law (resulting in the IPC and CrPC that we use to this day), the same cannot be said for civil law. Personal laws of Hindus, Muslims and others were left outside the purview of codified civil law, allowing traditions and customs to influence such matters. With the passage of time, personal laws have been codified. The Hindu Marriage Act 1954, Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872 and the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act 1937 among others are examples of this process. However, they more or less deal exclusively with the tradition and beliefs of specific communities.