New Delhi: Government has asked the Law Commission to examine the issue of implementation of a Uniform Civil Code, a move welcomed by the BJP and opposed by the Muslim Majlis and some activists.
The Department of Legal Affairs has asked the Commission, a recommendatory body, to submit a report on the issue that has always been dear to BJP and the sangh parivar The move assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider public debate before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of ‘triple talaq’, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives.
The government is likely to inform the Supreme Court of its decision to refer the matter of the common code to the Law Commission when the matter comes up in September. Reacting to the government decision, the BJP favoured a uniform civil code saying that it has been opposed due to vote bank politics despite finding a mention in the Constitution.
“There should be an open debate over it. The Constitution calls for it and those who oppose it only shows their intolerance to the Constitution. We have always advocated it. There should be uniform civil code. It has been opposed due to vote bank politics,” party’s National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said. Implementation of a uniform civil code is one of the core issues of BJP and the sangh parivar but the NDA governments in 19989 and 1999 and the current dispensation headed by Narendra Modi have put the contentious issues like scrapping of Article 370 and construction of Ram temple on the back burner.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Asaduddin Owaisi dubbed the decision of the government as a move to turn the nation into a “Hindu Rashtra”. “I challenge the government to impose total prohibition. If the government is serious about the civil code, it should withdraw the tax rebate extended to Hindu Undivided Families in the next session of Parliament,” he said. He claimed that the government is diverting the attention of the people as it has failed to provide employment and fuel the growth of the economy.
Shaista Amber, who had been fighting for the cause of Muslim women, said the Commission should hold wider consultations before reaching at a conclusion. But senior advocate K T S Tulsi said the issue of a common civil code is related to equal rights for both men and women as enshrined in the Constitution. He wondered why only men have thew right to give a triple talaq. “That right should be with Muslim women also,” he said.
Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda had earlier said that the issue could be referred to the Law Commission for examination. Gowda had said “wider consultations” will be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus and the process may take some time. “…Even the Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 of the Constitution do say that there should be a Uniform Civil Code…it needs to have a wider consultation,” he had said. A decision “cannot be done in a day or two. It will take its own time”, Gowda had said.
Congress today accused the Centre of deliberately raking up the issue in view of the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, saying it was “cheap politics” of BJP for creating communal polarisation. Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said that when election in a major state advances, divisive atmosphere is sought to be created deliberately and it is “cheap politics of BJP” aimed at polarisation.
He said it was a “fact” that whenever elections approach, issues like Uniform Civil Code, Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir and building of Ram temple in Ayodhya are raised to create an atmosphere of communal polarisation. “And after gaining power, they are put on the back burner,” he said. Singhvi said the way the matter has been raised could not be seen as a “genuine” move aimed at arriving at a consensus on the issue of Uniform Civil Code by talking to all concerned. “If it is political stuntbazi, we condemn,” he said.