BHOPAL – The All India Lawyers Council (AILC) has termed the imposition of Uniform Civil Code (UCC), as neither necessary nor desirable at this stage and is totally uncalled for.
The AILC in response to the Law Commission’s call for suggestions on UCC has submitted that the issue of the UCC is considered to be very sensitive as it would directly affect the way of life of every citizen relating to matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, death etc. as well as family ethos and traditions. So, the highest level of patience as well as the perseverance is required in dealing with the issue of UCC.
In a rejoinder AILC has appealed to the Law Commission to “withdraw” notice on UCC from the present exercise and to deliberate it afresh later. Referring to Goa Civil Code, AILC said that UCC is not the panacea for discriminatory provisions in law against women.
It may be mentioned here that on June 14th last the 22nd Law Commission headed by former Karnataka HC’s Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, had solicited the views and ideas of the public and recognised religious organisations to examine the UCC.
General Secretary P.V. Surendranath releasing AILC views on UCC said that the regime is not prepared to bring legislation to give reservation to women for representation in legislative Assemblies and Parliament and to do gender justice to them and develop our democracy empowering women.
“Homogenization of various cultural practices is not secularism. It is counterproductive to secularism and integration of the nation,” it stated.
21st Law Commission opined against proposal of UCC
Earlier, it may be recalled here that the 21st Law Commission of India had opined against the proposal of UCC and dealt with family laws of various religions that are discriminatory. It had also submitted its consultation paper on Reform of Family Law on August 31, 2018. “The government has not taken follow up action based on the 21st Law Commission Consultation Paper on Reform of Family Law initiating debate to develop consensus,” the AILC alleged.
The issue of UCC was wrapped up five years ago after considering the views of Indians in the year 2018. At that time the issue had thoroughly been considered by the 21st Law Commission of India lastly putting it at the abeyance by repeating the same findings of the Central Constitution Assembly of the year 1948 by not giving any recommendation to enforce UCC into Indian polity keeping in view of avoiding the consequences of the political adventure. So, the inference may be drawn that the issue of UCC has again been hurriedly notified before the country under political pressure and motives.
AILC Representation on UCC
As such the AILC considering the issue of utmost importance has resolved to file a representation containing the views on the UCC deliberating on the following grounds inter alia, amongst others:-
(1) That it is strongly emphasized at onset that till a copy of the draft of the UCC is provided and circulated in public affording sufficient time in view of the vastness of the country and high stakes of different classes of the Indian citizenry. Thereafter, a thorough debate is allowed engaging the citizens of all the hue, no decision may conclusively be taken at the issue as the people of India still do not know the merits and demerits of UCC or the purpose and jurisdiction of UCC. So, it is imperative to bring a draft to the public domain by the Union Government and then only the views may be solicited giving a proper and sufficient time before invoking any form of UCC in India. This process may remove the apprehension among the socially marginalized communities, the religious minorities, tribals etc. that the move is afoot to impose the majoritarianism sweeping aside the shared and democratic values of the country to thrust upon an artificial uniformity upon the country; (2) The UCC may not be made mandatory for any Indian and may be optional like the Special Marriage Act. The individual choice may be permitted to every citizen to choose or to discard. The minorities should not be compelled to follow the provisions of UCC till a member willingly opts to UCC in comparison of the respective family law of the person; (3) The UCC if enforced upon the Indian society, it may deliver more difficulties culminating into havoc in the country. So, the AILC sincerely pleads against the idea of compulsory UCC in India and favours the continuation of personal laws for every segment of the society till a consensus is reached by open debate on the form of the UCC; (4) That feelers are noticed in public domain that the move of enforcement of UCC is politically motivated aimed at targetting the marginalized sections of the country and even may be confronted from mainly dominant groups of the society. For example, the Sanatani values of Hindus are meant to respect and consider the marriage as “sacrosanct” being eternal, permanent and holy, while marriage in the Abrahamic religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism is only a social contract between husband and wife; (5) That the legal system of Hindus is mainly regulated by two separate schools viz-a-viz Mitakshara and Daya Bagh. Both are distinct and have keenly been followed by adherents. There may be another point for the objection regarding the Hindu joint family as due to this system, the exemptions in the payments of the income tax are legally provided to members of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). So, those who have been receiving pecuniary benefits may not like to be deprived from the advantage on account of political decision to apply the UCC to all the Indians; (6) That abrupt re-opening of the issue of UCC gives a feeling to the idea that the exercise to the UCC is to divert the attention from the several burning and live issues the country is currently facing and should concentrate to absolve and urgently resolve these; (7) That it is pertinent to mention here that one of the main architects of Brahminical social and political movement of India in the year 1972 had explicitly disfavoured the implementation of the UCC in India in view of the vast diversities and differences in traditions as well as the rituals and customary laws. The senior leader of the BJP has also opined against the enforcement of Uniform Civil Code. The BJP Member of Parliament Sushil Kumar Modi, the current Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law, has questioned the feasibility of the UCC pointing out the tribal areas including those in the North East since their customs, traditions and rituals are different from other communities and the Constitution also grants the irrevocable protection to their special rights. According to Mr. Vyalar Ravi, the former cabinet minister of India, the Indian society is deeply enriched as there are more than 200 personal laws being practiced into the country. So, to avoid any injury to the “Idea of India” that is always inclusive, federal and democratic never to be overruled by the whim of the uniformity; (8) the special provisions in the Constitution have been incorporated by the Scheduled 5 and the Scheduled 6, safeguarding the rights of the tribal areas and the people. There is also provision for the special rights for the people of the 11 States under Article 371 of the Constitution, so all these special provisions may not be allowed to be diluted; (9) The Constitution of India further guarantees fundamental rights of equality and life to every citizen with right to faith and conscience. The special provision for the rights of religious minorities has also been enshrined into the Constitution of India as the fundamental rights. Every minority just a Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain or Parsi have got their deeply-rooted systems governed by personal laws and sanctioned by the Constitution of India. Different communities among tribal people are proud of their social systems practising for a long; (10) That there has been smooth existence of the law simultaneously working in case of the civil marriage. If a Hindu performs marriage with the Hindu under the provisions of Special Marriage Act, the couple is still governed by the provisions of Hindu Personal Law so is the case with the Muslims, if his or her marriage under provisions of Special Marriage Act is registered, both being Muslims, their life is to be regulated under the provisions of Muslim Personal Law. So, the space of Special Marriage Act has created a precedent that the personal laws may coexist and may be permitted to be continuing in personal life of the followers. in accordance with their faith and beliefs; (11) That only few ground realities mentioned in preceding paragraphs lead to believe that except political adventurism there is no other reason to re-open the issue of UCC in a hurry keeping in view the findings of the 21st Law Commission that had five years ago concluded that UCC is neither necessary nor desirable. So, the 22nd Law Commission also expected to stick to the decision, taking back the notice of June 14th, 2023 after application of fair mind and genuinely weighting the merits and demerits of UCC. So, the ideas of application of UCC are liable to be dropped in the wider and overall interests of the country and (12) That the hurried process may be considered totally against the principle of natural justice amounting to tampering with divergent and deep values of family’s laws fully workable in respective faiths, beliefs, race and region. Alternatively, it may be considered in the long run that the social groups or religious denominations, the majority out of them if specifically concur to any draft of UCC prepared by the Union Government, may be covered under provisions of proposed UCC by the Union of India. The remaining denominations may be given an option either to follow UCC or the respective family laws so that nobody in the country feels frustrated.
Meanwhile, it is also submitted that the gender equality, inheritance etc. are some issues beyond the above discussions urgently required to take not the dwelling at the UCC in a hurry and without cultivating an atmosphere of consensus.
As such AILC in view of the above discussions herewith partially responds demanding to revoke the notice dated June 14, 2023 issued by the Secretary of behalf of the 22nd Law Commission of India with further demand to provide a draft of UCC and also demands to give sufficient time for the filling of proper response to all the Indians.