Amid the row over the government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court for abolishing triple talaq, senior BJP leader and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday stressed that there is a “fundamental distinction between religious practices, rituals and civil rights”. In a Facebook post titled “Triple Talaq and the Government’s Affidavit”, Jaitley, a former Union law minister, said the government is of the clear view that “personal laws should be constitutionally compliant and in conformity with norms of gender equality”. He took a dig at previous governments for not taking a categorical stand on the issue.
“The government’s view is clear. Personal laws have to be constitutionally compliant and the institution of Triple Talaq, therefore, will have to be judged on the yardstick of equality and the Right to Live with Dignity. Needless to say that the same yardstick would be applicable to all other personal laws. As of today, the issue before the Supreme Court is only with regard to the constitutional validity of triple talaq. Governments in the past have shied from taking a categorical stand that personal laws must comply with fundamental rights. The present government has taken a clear position,” Jaitley said.
He underlined that the issue with regard to the constitutional validity of triple talaq is distinct from the Uniform Civil Code. “The academic debate with regard to the Uniform Civil Code can go on before the Law Commission. The question to be answered is that assuming that each community has its separate personal law, should not those personal laws be constitutionally compliant?” Jaitley said.
He said the framers of the Constitution had expressed hope in the Directive Principles of State Policy that the state would endeavour to have a Uniform Civil Law. He also referred to various changes brought by governments in the past in Hindu personal laws and provisions of marriage and divorce relating to the Christian community in order to bring about gender equality.
“Governments, legislatures and communities have to respond to the need for a change. As communities have progressed, there is a greater realisation with regard to gender equality.” he said.