Not much progress has been made towards achieving the ideal of a uniform civil code which still remains a distant dream. The only tangible step taken in this direction has been the codification and secularization of Hindu law. The codification of Muslim law still remains a sensitive matter. The unique feature of Islam is that the historical foundations of Islamic religious law, i.e. shari’a, include a universal system of law and ethics and purport to regulate every aspect of public and private life. The power of shari’a to regulate the behaviour of Muslim derives from its moral and religious authority as well as the formal enforcement of its legal norms. Many authors hold the view that the nature of shari’a reflects specific historical interpretations of the scriptural imperatives of Islam.
However, to an overwhelming majority of Muslims today, shari’a is the sole valid interpretation of Islam, and as such ought to prevail over any human law or policy. This becomes extremely problematic because shari’a conflicts with international human rights standards in that it discriminated against women and non-Muslims. The divinity of shari’a insulates it from challenge by an average Muslim and prevents a successful criticism from the human rights perspective from taking place.
What needs to be remembered, however, is that India is a secular country where the Constitutional philosophy reigns supreme. Personal laws, howsoever scared, should not be allowed to encroach upon the inviolable collective values of the nation. India is not an Islamic country and in fact, has a secular code for criminal law. If the Muslim community has accepted a non-shari’a code in one sphere, then logically, it should be amenable to such a code in other spheres as well.
It is necessary that law be divorced from religion. With the enactment of a uniform code, secularism will be strengthened; much of the present day separation and divisiveness between various religious groups in the country will disappear, and India will emerge as a much more cohesive and integrated nation.