S. A Bobde, the Chief Justice of India not long so cherished the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) of Goa, the only state to have one. This brought the spotlight back to the CDU debate, although the Law Commission concluded in 2018 that a UCC was neither advisable nor practicable. There was no formation of any expert committee of the type of the Hindu Law Reforms Committee, and there was no draft UCC prepared.
UCC is advantageous, but in a piecemeal fashion. Each state in the United States has a separate Constitution and criminal laws, and the plurality of laws has not diminished this country. The UCC has no role to play in keeping the integrity of the country.
CJI pressed the intellectuals to severely study Goa UCC. In 2019 judgment of Jose Paulo Coutinho, the Apex Court, had called Goa, a shining example of UCC. Judge Deepak Gupta had preferred the applicability of the Civil Code of Goa concerning the properties outside Goa instead of applying the Indian Succession Act, 1925, the common law of land, which was as a matter of fact applied to the CJ Simon (2012) and Christians of Travancore & Kochi in Mary Roy (1986).
The Portuguese Civil Code of Goa, 1867, is essentially a foreign code given by the Portuguese. Its extension and the non-application of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 or the Indian Succession Act of 1925 or the Sharia Enforcement Act of 1937 and the dissolution of the Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, etc. in Goa is an instance of legal pluralism, and the negation of the very idea of a nation, of a law?
As per Article 1 of the Decree of Gentile Hindu Usages and Customs of Goa, 1880, the Hindu traditions were kept and immunity from the Civil Code were granted to the Gentile Hindus. This decree extended the institution of the common Hindu family, called sociedade in Portuguese, which is technically closer to a partnership than to the concept of a mixed Hindu family.
The Shariat Act has not been expanded to Goa, Muslims are ruled over by Code and the Shastric Hindu law. Those in favor of love jihad laws would be amazed to know that under Article 1090 of the Goa Code, the wedding cannot be rescinded on religious grounds.
The Goa Civil Code has four components, dealing with acquisition of rights, civil capacity, the right to property, and violation of rights and remedies. It initiated in name of King of Portugal and the God and Dom Luis. The Constituent Assembly of India denied H V Kamath’s proposal for a similar invocation of God in the Constitution.
The Code survived under sub-section (1) of section 5 of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act 1962, which allowed its continuation On the contrary, the 2019 Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act repealed laws based on local Hindu customs; even the Muslims of Kashmir were governed by such non-Islamic laws and customs.