On October 29, about a month before the Assembly elections in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government said it would form a panel to implement a uniform civil code in the state. The BJP formed a similar panel in Uttarakhand in May and has promised to implement a uniform civil code if it is elected again in Himachal Pradesh.
A uniform civil code entails a common law that will govern marriages, divorces, adoption and succession for all Indians. At present, these practices are regulated by the personal law of the individual’s religion.
Opposition leaders have claimed that such a move would be illegal, arguing that only the Union government can implement a uniform civil code. However, constitutional experts argue while it might not be unlawful to bring a uniform civil code at the state level, there are practical hurdles in enacting such a law.
Even at the national level, experts argue, it is unclear what a uniform civil code will look like. Further, they argue that it may entail taking away benefits currently enjoyed only by Hindus and, therefore, unlikely to be enacted by the BJP.
Opposition leaders have claimed that the BJP’s attempt to implement a uniform civil code at the state level is illegal. Congress leader…