Uttar Pradesh (UP) Board of Madrassa Education chairperson Iftikhar Ahmad Javed has backed the idea of bringing in a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India, stating that it is being opposed only by those who want to keep Muslims oppressed, a report published in The Times of India said.
Javed said the UCC should have been brought in right when India gained independence and personal laws should not have been divided into Hindu and Muslim.
Successive governments have steered clear of adopting a UCC for fear of angering voters from India’s Hindu majority as well as its Muslim and Christian minorities.
The UCC, which aims to unify and implement personal laws, will apply equally to all citizens, regardless of religion, sex, gender, and sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, critics see the code, which has figured in some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election manifestos, as part of the party’s efforts to deliver on its agenda and boost anti-Muslim sentiment.
ToI quoted Javed as saying that the UCC is being opposed by those who want to keep Muslims subjugated and not let them join the mainstream. He further asked when criminal proceedings in India are one and the same for all, why shouldn’t personal laws be the same.
“All Indians have equal rights as citizens of the country, be it in elections through voting or have a uniform criminal law across the nation. What is the problem in accepting UCC then? We have been late in implementing this. UCC should have been brought in when the country gained independence 75 years ago,” the TOI quoted Javed as saying.
“At the time, bifurcations in law such as the Hindu Court, Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu law were made. Hindu-Muslim should not have been done at that time,” he said, adding that UCC had not been implemented even when the Indian Supreme Court had advocated for it several times. Javed blamed the previous government for inaction.
“There is no problem in UCC. People have been claiming it will affect Indian minorities but there is no draft of the law as yet. No one knows what is going to be in the law unless a draft has been presented. If all of us have equal rights as citizens, UCC will also be uniformly applicable to all,” the ToI quoted Javed as saying.
He blamed religious and political leaders for opposing the UCC even though its draft is yet to be finalised. “Some people have the habit of opposing anything the government does. These people are of the mentality that if the oppressed minority is brought into the mainstream, who will satiate their egos then? These people had also opposed the polio drops once,” he added.
Separately All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has said that any attempt to introduce a Uniform Civil Code would be “an unconstitutional and anti-minorities move”.
General Secretary of AIMPLB Hazrat Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said, “The Constitution of India allows every citizen to lead a life according to his religion, and it has been included in the Fundamental Rights. Under this right, different personal laws have been kept for minorities and tribal classes according to their wishes and traditions, which does not cause any harm to the country.”
The AIMPLB said that it helps in maintaining mutual unity and mutual trust between the majority and the minority and the “rhetoric of the Uniform Civil Code by the Uttarakhand or Uttar Pradesh governments or the Centre is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from issues like inflation, falling economy, and rising unemployment and to increase the agenda of hatred.”
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has appealed to the government to refrain from such actions.
WHAT IS THE UNIFORM CIVIL CODE?
The Uniform Civil Code, which comes under Article 44 of the Constitution of India, proposes to introduce personal laws that would apply to all citizens equally, irrespective of their religion, gender, caste, etc.
Article 44 states, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. However, since the article comes under the directive principles of state policy, they are regarded as only guidelines and it is not mandatory to use them.
At present, the personal laws of various communities are largely governed by their religion.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto promised the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code if it came to power.