Arts, Humanities and Social Science

Unification of Personal Laws in India and Rights of Women
Dr. Mamta Rana

Women enjoy a unique position in every society and country of the world. Despite their contribution in all spheres of life, they suffer in silence and form a class, which is in a disadvantaged position because of several barriers and impediments. India, being a country of paradoxes, is no exception. Here too, women, an epitome of Shakti, once given an exalted status, are in need of empowerment-legal, social, political and economic. However, empowerment and equality are based on the gender sensitivity of society towards their problems. The framers of the Constitution were conscious of the unequal treatment and discrimination meted out to the fairer sex from time immemorial and, therefore, included certain general as well as specific provisions for the upliftment of the status of women. Article 14 and 15of the Constitution of India provides for equal protection before law and there shall not be any discrimination based on sex. However, personal laws of different religions vary in laws relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance, succession, adoption and guardianship. There is no uniform civil law pertaining to personal matters however, the uniformity in laws exists in criminal laws on the other side. The Indian Constitution in its part IV, Article 44 directs the State to provide a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. However, it is only a directive principle of state policy; therefore, it cannot be enforced in a court of law. To ensure equality, protection and promotion of rights and avoid social and religious taboos acknowledged in the personal laws, which are somehow responsible for the vulnerable position of the females in the society. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to have unification of laws to acknowledge the rights of women and to give them equal status in society.

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