The Hindu Code Bills were a set of laws passed in the 1950s aimed at codifying personal laws for a majority of India and reforming problems like discriminations of caste and gender etc.
There was an initial draft during colonial rule, which was revised by Ambedkar in 1950. Major features of the draft included:
- Inclusion of all people who were not Muslims, Jews, Christians or Parsi.
- Allowing either partner to file for divorce
- Equal inheritance for women
- Making monogamy mandatory
Ambedkar’s proposals were met with a lot of opposition, the most notable opponent being Rajendra Prasad, the President. Prasad’s argument was that the bill forced progressive opinions of a very small political class on the majority who didn’t want it.
There were also valid arguments saying that a uniform civil code should apply to ALL sections of the population. However, the belief of Ambedkar and Nehru was that there were enough liberal progressive Hindus to bring reform, but there were nowhere near enough progressives in the Muslim community. As such, it would be nigh impossible to pass a uniform civil code. 70 years later, India still does not have a uniform civil code.
Ambedkar’s initial draft did not pass as the Parliamentary session ended. Disappointed and angry that Nehru didn’t do enough, Ambedkar resigned from the Union Cabinet in 1951.
After nearly ten years of arguments, the Hindu Code bill was passed into law as 4 seperate acts.
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- Hindu Succession Act, 1956
- Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
- Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956