REFRAIN FROM THE MOVE TO IMPLEMENT UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
New Delhi, 3rd July 2023: As the 22nd Law Commission has solicited ‘views and ideas of the stakeholders’ about the Uniform Civil Code again after the same process and issuance of a Consultation Paper on ‘Reforms of Family Law’ by the 21st Law Commission in 2016 and 2018, the UCC issue has once again become live in the socio-political platforms in the country.
India is a country of diversity that comprise, apart from the followers of major religions in the world, innumerable castes and tribes that follow their own religious, or tribal faiths, culture and customs. The customs differ from one sub-caste or sub-tribal to the other, even among the same caste or tribe. Bringing all these customs or cultures under one law or any effort to unifying them is an exercise of flogging the dead horse.
People have been made to believe that the Uniform Civil Code is another tool to teach Muslims a lesson, and this narrative is easy to garner support in the present Indian scenario. The media too are highlighting it as something affecting the Muslims only. But it is not the fact. Uniform Civil Code affects every citizen of the country, no matter whether he is a follower of any religion, belongs to any particular tribe or caste, or is a rational or atheist. Unifying the civil laws would end up in chaos, as it will disrupt the cultural arena of hundreds of tribal sects as well as different religious groups in the country.
A lot of questions arise as to which laws will be followed when UCC is implemented. For example, Hindus of Punjab still follow the principles of primogeniture – the eldest male inherits to the exclusion of all – Will this law be made common to all Hindus in the country? Will the Hindus on the North East who are governed by tribal laws be made to give up it and accept the new UCC? Hindus in the north follow the custom of saptapadi whereas in the south it is the tying of the thali (mangalsutra) to solemnise the marriage. Which custom will be followed or imposed under the Uniform Civil Code? Will the Sikh community be forced to give up their Anand Marriage Act and follow the proposed-to-be-drafted code in solemnising their marriages?
A major argument put forward by the proponents of the Uniform Civil Code is that the Constitution demands for it. The Constitution has clearly defined the right of the citizens to believe, follow and propagate any religion of their choice as a Fundamental Right. Hence any attempt to trespass into the religious rights of any community or tribes or castes is tantamount to infringing the Fundamental Right of religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, and so is anti-Constitutional.
The Directive Principles of State Policy comprise 16 directives to the state (Articles 36 -51). The intention of the government in focusing on and promoting the Uniform Civil Code, leaving apart the other directives, most of which are intended for the welfare of the citizens such as “…Reducing income inequality, status imbalance and other social issues are at the core of this principle…” (Article 38), “… securing adequate means of livelihood for the citizens by providing equitable material resources to everyone, and striving for equal work pay for both men and women…” (Article 39), “… to provide the Right to Work, Right to Education and Right to Public Assistance in cases of unemployment, old age and sickness…” (Article 41), Article 46 that is dedicated to weaker sections of the society or rather communities that have been through various oppressions and directs to ensure and improve the educational and economic interests of SC, STs and other weaker sections and which guides the State to ensure that there is no social injustice and exploitation against the weaker sections, and Article 47 that directs the State to work to prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are harmful to health, is suspicious.
The Law Commission or the government is not yet clear about the codes to be followed in the proposed Uniform Civil Code. The enactment will, no doubt, further deteriorate the already disturbed social environment in the country. Sanvidhan Suraksha Andolan, in this context, asks the union government to step back from the efforts to enact UCC and to concentrate on other vital issues of the citizens in the country.
For Sanvidhan Suraksha Andolan
We, the undersigned, fully endorse the demand of Sanvidhan Suraksha Andolan to the government to refrain from the efforts to enact UCC, based on the facts mentioned in the memorandum.
1. Justice BG Kolse Patel
Ex Judge Bombay High Court, President, Lokshasan Andolan
2. Maulana Sajjad Naumani
3. Atinder Pal Singh
4. Simranjeet Singh
5. Maulana Obaidullah Khan Azmi
Former Member of Parliament
6. Justice Vinay Vardaya
7. MK Faizy
National President, SDPI
8. RajRatna Ambedkar
President, Budhist Society of India
9. Bhadant Anand
National President, Akhil Bhartiye Bhikhu Mahasangh
10. Sayed Sarwar Chisti
Khadime Khwaja Ajmer Sharif
11. Prof. Kumar Kale
12. Zaheer Abbas
Vice President, All India Shia Personal Law Board
13. Fr. Susai Sebastian
Ex Vicar General, Delhi Archdiocese
14. Dr Asma Zehra
Founder, Muslim Women Association
15. Inderjeet Singh
16. Mujtaba Farooq
Member Central Advisory Council, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind
17. Shahnawaz Qadri
18. Feroze Ahmad Advocate, Supreme Court
National President, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat