There is a reasonable apprehension that irresponsible elements in the political class will weaponise the idea of a Uniform Civil Code to incite sentiments and vitiate the atmosphere in the country, says the umbrella body of Muslim organisations in its letter to the Law Commission
NEW DELHI — Uniform Civil Code (UCC) would not be in consonance with the values which lie at the heart of the Constitution, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat has reiterated.
Responding to the Law Commission’s notice, the umbrella body of Muslim organisations said the government’s own idea of the UCC is replete with contradictions.
There are various problems inherent in the idea of a UCC for the entire country, the letter said pointing out that the 21st Law Commission in 2018 stated that UCC was neither necessary nor desirable.
“It goes without saying that there has been no transformative change since then which warrants a review of the view taken by the Law Commission itself. Reopening an issue duly settled by the Law Commission has larger ramifications for the rule of law and such an exercise being taken by the Law Commission again is not at all warranted,” the letter said.
Responsible members of the ruling dispensation, it said, have stated that scheduled tribes will be excluded from the purview of UCC. “As per news reports, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the head of the parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice, Sushil Modi, are of the view that tribes should be excluded from the UCC. It goes without saying that the ostensible purpose of the UCC, namely uniformity, would be defeated if a large section of citizens is exempted from its application. Moreover, it also shows that the votaries of the UCC themselves acknowledge that in a diverse country like India, different identities have to be accommodated even in matters of law.”
The Mushawarat letter said the UCC issue has a direct bearing on fundamental rights. “Article 25 of the Constitution gives the citizens of India, the right to practice their religion freely. Uniform Civil Code will infringe upon the said right as it affects the right of citizens to live their lives in accordance with the injunctions of their religion. Also, issues like marriage, divorce, guardianship, custody and inheritance are related to family affairs. The sanctity and privacy of family space will be eroded if the state imposes one law on all in its quest for uniformity,” it said.
Calls for a UCC have deeply disturbed minority communities in India, the letter said. “Though an attempt is made in certain quarters to give the impression that opposition to UCC exists in the Muslim community alone, Sikh and Christian groups are deeply alarmed by the government’s renewed attempts to push for a UCC.”
The letter pointed out that Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has strongly deplored the idea of a UCC. Paramjit Sarna, president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) has expressed similar views on the topic in his letter to the Law Commission. The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee has strongly opposed the UCC. The Christian community has publicly expressed its opposition to the UCC. “It all shows that religious minorities are firmly of the view that enacting a UCC would be construed as interference with religious freedom,” the letter said.
The Mushawat letter said the timing of the present discussion raises a lot of questions. “The issue has arisen on the eve of general elections to the Lok Sabha. There is a reasonable apprehension that irresponsible elements in the political class will weaponise the idea of a Uniform Civil Code to incite sentiments and vitiate the atmosphere in the country. Incendiary statements may be given with respect to UCC to serve vested partisan and personal interests and to reap electoral benefits. In view of the fact that there is no urgency to examine the proposal for a UCC, it is submitted that the present discussion could have been postponed by a year or two,” the letter concluded.