Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Commending the Law Commission of India’s recommendation against imposition of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country, Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, has said that the commission has “realized the large scale of diversities in the country” and “it is better to reform personal laws within the communities first”. He said that when he wrote articles and raised the issue during “ignorant debates” on TV news channels on UCC, he was “criticized, trolled and even called fanatic and Jihadi terrorist “ but eventually the Law Commission has opined the same what he said earlier.
Talking to Caravan Daily, Prof. Mustafa said, “I feel that law commission realizes that in our country of our size with large scale of diversities, Uniform Civil Code is not practicable and it is better that we should first reform the laws within the communities. I am of the opinion that uniformity as such is not a great factor, laws may be different but those laws have to be just laws.”
“Law commission is right that we should go step by step. The first step is that law within the community should be reformed. And once we have achieved gender parity and gender justice within the community we should extend it to across the community,” he said.
He was attending an annual educational award ceremony program organized by Alika Educational and Health Society at Jamia Millia Isalmia on Saturday.
While speaking on the occasion Prof Mustafa said, “When I wrote articles about different laws in various states are in practice due to several amendments by various states, I was criticized, trolled and even called fanatic and Jihadi terrorist too. And you see now what law commission has said. That is why I had written that if any reform has to bring, do small reforms. In one go uniform civil code is not made. There should be just code and community- wise reform.”
On Friday the Law Commission of India released a Consultation Paper on ‘Reform of Family Law’ wherein it opined that UCC is not required to reconcile conflicts in personal/family laws with the Indian Constitution stating that it is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage”. Commission argued for reform of family laws of every religion through amendments and codification of certain aspects so as to make it gender-just.
Prof. Mustafa asked, “If tomorrow UCC comes in shape, good things from different personal laws will be taken. Will Hindu community be ready?”
“It is a long term process. So eventually Law Commission considered it and opined that UCC is neither desirable and nor applicable at this point of time,” he said.
Prof. Mustafa also said that AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personnel Law Board) could not explain before the Supreme Court that if any problem arises in different sects of Muslims in divorce and other cases they can take the interpretation of laws from any major five schools of thoughts of Islam.
“Unfortunately we (Muslim Community) have left aside the flexibility of school of thoughts” he concerned.
On the occaission Prof. Mustafa touched several important aspects of UCC, personal laws, media’s insincerity over the legal issues, etc. At the event, he was also conferred with “Fakhr-e-Millat Award” along with several others for their distinguished work in their fields.
Ignorant Media Debates on Personal Laws
Prof. Faizan Mustafa scathingly said that a section of media did very ignorant debates titled “one law for one nation” that is why he wrote some articles published in various newspapers.
“Though my areas are IPR (Intellectual property law ), criminal laws and constitution but so many ignorant debates on personal laws were going on national TV channels that it compelled me to enter in that debate to give it right direction.”
Citing his first article “Muslim personal law: Get a just code, not uniform code” published in Hindustan Times, Prof. Mustafa said that “one law for one nation is not a big merit.”
“There can be several laws. Even legal pluralism (diversity of laws) is considered better. But those laws should be just,” he averred.
Saying that to bring reform in any community, laws should not be imposed from outside because normative changes in laws are not impactful on the ground. For this he also cited Hindu Succession Act.
“After 65 years of that Hindu Succession Laws, researches revealed that the share to women in ownership and property is 20 times less than the men because in most of the cases parents give their property to their son through a will,” he pointed out.
Prof. Mustafa said that if the government wants to bring reform it should at least give same procedure to the Muslim laws which the government gave in case of Hindu laws. He mentioned that during colonial rule in the process of codification of personal laws of various religions by British Govrnment, a committee to draft Hindu Code Bill was constituted but even after independence it could not reform Hindu laws.
He said, “In 1941, a drafting committee comprising 8 members was formed under the chairmanship of (Jurist) B N Rao, that gave its report which was later debated, then a Hindu Code Bill was formed but it was not passed and compromised with Hindu Fundamentalists and diluted. Eventually Law Minister Dr B R Ambedkar had to resign over this. So even after 15 years exercise, government could not make a strong and reform law because daughter could not make copartner. That change government could bring in 2005. Still till today, Hindu laws have not been reformed and there are no uniform Hindu laws.”
“So if government wants to bring reform in Muslim laws. It should make a committee of experts, wait for their report, open it for public debate then make any law,” he concluded.