My Views on Uniform Civil Code

Eastern Crescent
Eastern Crescent 9 Min Read 35 Views

My Views on Uniform Civil Code

Maulana Mohammad Badruddin Ajmal (MP from Dhubri, Assam)

 

The Law Commission of India (LCI) issued a fresh Public Notice dated 14 June, 2023 and sought suggestions from common public, civil society members and all the stakeholders till the 15th of July, 2023.

The common men are replying, suggesting and writing to the LCI with enthusiasm. The Non-Residential Indians (NRIs) are also seen to be writing to the LCI and actively participating in this ‘process of law making’, which is good for our Indian democracy. But I doubt that the Government of India will pay due attention towards all these painstaking writings, instead, it may do what better suits its political interests. For the time being, the Govt. of India has successfully brought this polarizing issue at the center stage once again after nearly five years as an easy political weapon to use in the upcoming 2024 general election. I wish to put forward these three concerns of mine before the public through this statement.

  1. Fundamental Right of Citizens Must Not Be Curved

The article 25 of India’s Constitution is among the Fundamental Rights which reads: “… all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.”

On the contrary, the article 44 of the same Constitution is a Directive Principle which reads: “The State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

A directive principle is a suggestion, it is an optional act and it cannot undo any fundamental right of an Indian citizen. “The Directive Principles” denotes that it only created a ‘power’ and not a ‘duty’ for the future law makers of India. The Constituent Assembly of India after extensive discussion and debate was pleased to keep the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) merely an ‘endeavour’. It also indicates towards the fact that the UCC was then impractical in India’s multi religious and multi-cultural society and the same diverse demographic condition exists till date even with clearer identity lines.

In addition to the article 25 of Indian Constitution, the article 26 and 29 are also among the ‘Rights of Citizens’. The article 26 is about “Freedom to manage religious affairs: … every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right (a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;…” The article 29 is about “Protection of interests of minorities: (1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

The enactment of UCC will be against various other articles of the Indian Constitution including the Fundamental Rights, strongly enshrined in articles 25, 26 and 29. An effort to make changes in the Muslim Personal Laws has always been considered an interference in the religion and religious practices by the Indian Muslims, thus it is totally against the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights. A Directive Principle cannot and must not abrogate any of the Fundamental Rights which will go against the basic principle of the Indian Constitution – decorated in its Preamble and it will also go against the illustrated democratic values of India’s ‘unity in diversity’ culture.

  1. UCC is not possible in India

Diversity is the beauty of India. The Indian constitution ensures “justice, social, economic and political” to all citizens. It has adopted measures for the protection of the rights of all religious and ethnic minorities and of all socially and economically disadvantaged classes such as the scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) etc. As, different kinds of flowers add to the beauty of a garden, in the same way people with different cultures and colours are the beauty of this awesome country. This is the sole idea of India.

One country one law is not possible here. Adivasis have their own customs and cultural mores. They have different ways of marriage and also different rituals for burying the dead. A large section of Hindus practices different religious customs in different places. In our Northeast, we have very diverse culture and customs and these all can’t be brought under any single culture.

The Uniform Civil Code in India is an illusion, and a political claptrap. It is illogical as well as impossible to make it practical. So why this government is creating a hysteria among common men through Law Commission of India, is better known to our Hnourable Prime Minister and his companions. To me, such an exercise will invite disunity, chaos and cause disturbance among minorities within India and tarnish India’s image as a secular democratic country in the world.   

  1. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937

The Muslim personal law in India is not unconstitutional. Muslims here are governed by a set of uncodified laws which, like many other laws, has been borrowed from the British Laws. The Shariat Application Act which was enacted in the 7th of October, 1937 and enforced since then, that must remain as it is and it needs to be codified if the Govt. is serious to empower Muslims in this country.

It is a common perception that the UCC will displace personal laws which govern marriage, divorce, inheritance and other family and social practices of all communities – including Muslims whose personal laws are part of their religion and worship. It is also noteworthy that personal laws are integral parts of all major religions and communities. Any tempering with personal laws would be equal to interfering with the whole way of life of people who had been following them from generation to generation with traditional pride and customary care. India is a secular state and it must not do anything that would jeopardize the people’s religious and cultural ethos.

Many communities particularly minority communities – Muslims, Christian and Sikhs et al, contemplate the UCC as an encroachment on their right to religious freedom and different identities. They fear that a common code will neglect their traditions and impose rules which will be mainly dictated and influenced by the majority religious community’s personal laws. Constitution of India provides with the Right to freedom of religion of one’s choice. With codification of uniform rules and its compulsion, the scope of the freedom of religion will be reduced and heavily neglected. Thus, it is just and prudent to set aside the issue of UCC in the national interest – once and for all.

Maulana Mohammad Badruddin Ajmal is a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Dhubri, Assam & the President of  All and  India United Democratic Front and  State Jamiat Ulama-e Hind of Assam

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