New Delhi [India]: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Monday alleged that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was indulging in propaganda over the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and blamed the successive governments for institutionalizing majority and minority.
RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha backed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s assertion that personal laws must be constitutionally compliant, adding there cannot be two laws in this country.
“Unfortunately the successive governments have institutionalized the majority and minority, which is not according to the temperament, nature and historical process of India. We are one people and the Muslim leadership is doing propaganda. They are propagating that this (UCC) is the question over their identity,” he told ANI.
Sinha further said gender justice is fundamental of our civil society as per the Constitution.
“The government must come forward with the Uniform Civil Code, triple talaq must be abolished whether the community leaders agree or disagree,” Sinha said.
“A liberal democratic state is always expected to apply there progressive measures for the larger well-being of the people and I hope that this government is determined and they should bring out a law,” he added.
In wake of the ongoing debate over ‘triple talaq’, the Finance Minister yesterday said the government is of the clear view that personal laws should be constitutionally compliant and in conformity with norms of gender equality and the right to live with dignity.
“The issue with regard to the constitutional validity of ‘Triple Talaq’ is distinct from the Uniform Civil Code. The constitutional framers had expressed a hope in the Directive Principles of State Policy that the State would endeavour to have a Uniform Civil Law,” said Jaitley in a Facebook post.
“On more than one occasion, the Supreme Court has enquired from the Government its’ stand on the issue. Governments have repeatedly told both the Court and the Parliament that personal laws are ordinarily amended after detailed consultations with affected stakeholders,” he added.
The Finance Minister said the Law Commission has initiated an academic exercise once again on the issue of the Uniform Civil Code.
” This academic exercise by the Law Commission is only a continuation of the debate in this country ever since Constituent Assembly had expressed the hope that the State would endeavour to have a Uniform Civil Code,” said Jaitley.
“Irrespective of whether the Uniform Civil Code is today possible or otherwise, a pertinent question arises with regard to reforms within the personal laws of various communities,” he added.
Jaitley further said reforming the personal laws, even if there is no uniformity, is an ongoing process.
“With passage of time, several provisions became obsolete, archaic and even got rusted. Governments, legislatures and communities have to respond to the need for a change,” he added.
The Finance Minister further wrote that as communities have progressed, there is a greater realisation with regard to gender equality.
“Additionally, all citizens, more particularly women, have a right to live with dignity. Should personal laws which impact the life of every citizen be in conformity with these constitutional values of equality and the Right to Live with Dignity? A conservative view found judicial support over six decades ago that personal laws could be inconsistent with personal guarantees. Today it may be difficult to sustain that proposition. The Government’s affidavit in the triple talaq case recognises this evolution,” he added.
Pointing out that there is a fundamental distinction between religious practices, rituals and civil rights, Jaitley said,
“Religious functions associated with birth, adoption, succession, marriage, death, can all be conducted through rituals and customs as per existing religious practices. Should rights emanating from birth, adoption, succession, marriage, divorce etc. be guided by religion or by constitutional guarantees? Can there be inequality or compromise with human dignity in any of these matters? Some people may hold a conservative, if not obsolete, view that personal laws need not be constitutionally compliant,” he wrote in a facebook post.
“The Government’s view is clear. Personal laws have to be constitutionally compliant and the institution of Triple Talaq, therefore, will have to be judged on the yardstick of equality and the Right to Live with Dignity. Needless to say that the same yardstick would be applicable to all other personal laws,” he added
Jaitley further said the issue before the Supreme Court is only with regard to the constitutional validity of triple talaq.
“Governments in the past have shied from taking a categorical stand that personal laws must comply with Fundamental Rights. The present Government has taken a clear position. The academic debate with regard to the Uniform Civil Code can go on before the Law Commission. The question to be answered is that assuming that each community has its separate personal law, should not those personal laws be constitutionally compliant?” he added.
On October 7, the Law Commission of India had issued a 16-point questionnaire, seeking public response on the various aspects of the UCC. (ANI)