Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the Law Commission has on Friday asked the public seeking its response on these sensitive issues broached perhaps for the first time.
Amid a raging debate on uniform civil code, the law panel has sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws.
In an appeal issued on Friday, the Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.
In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission has asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and whether it would benefit people.
Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.
It has also sought to know whether the uniform code should include subjects like divorce, marriage, adoption, child custody, succession and inheritance.
It has asked people and stake holders as to whether a common code would infringe an individual’s right to freedom of religion.
“The Commission hopes to begin a healthy conversation about the viability of a uniform civil code and will focus on family laws of all religions and the diversity of customary practices, to address social injustice rather than plurality of laws,” law panel chairman Justice B S Chauhan (retd) said.
He said responding to the demands of social change, the panel will consider the opinions of all stake-holders and the general public to ensure that the “norms of no one class, group or community dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.
Justice Chauhan said in the appeal that the family law reform has to view women’s rights as an end in itself rather than a matter of constitutional provision, religious right and political debate.
Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on a uniform civil code, the government had in June asked the Law Commission to examine the issue.
Implementation of a common code is part of the BJP’s election manifesto.
The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of ‘triple talaq’, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives.
However, a section of Muslim leaders have opposed any move to abolish triple talaq and other personal laws.