Taking up a controversial yet core issue of the BJP, the government said Friday it will “initiate” consultations with “stakeholders” to bring in a common civil code “at the earliest”, underlining that the matter is of “utmost importance” because “the Constitution mandates” a uniform code.
Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said: “Article 44 of the Constitution mandates that we should have a common civil code.” Besides, “there are various judgments of the Supreme Court right from the Shah Bano case, Sharda Mudgal case, even in 2003 in Vellimuttam’s case. All these observations made by the Supreme Court say that there needs to be a uniform civil code.”
“I would like to assure the House that we have to move forward on uniform civil code only with absolute clarity on various issues related to it. It is our duty to move forward as it is mandated by the makers of our Constitution. It needs to be implemented, but after wider consultations with stakeholders.”
“We will have to work out the modalities. We will have to identify the issues and take them up inside and outside Parliament. A clear vision will have to be given by the government. We are working on all this. We will certainly come before the House with all those things… We will come up with certain issues which will be placed in the public domain,” he said.
Enforcement of a common civil code, abrogation of Article 370 and construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya form part of the core BJP agenda. The party had included the promise of a common civil code in its election manifesto as well.
“Certainly, this government wants to have more debate on this issue and we should come out with a common civil code, a uniform civil code across the country,” Gowda said.
He said there are “certain issues” which need to be deliberated. A common civil code, he said, would “enhance the status of women and the so-called lower castes because many of the personal laws are biased against them.”
“Because it is a sensitive issue, wider consultations need to be held,” he said, adding “we will initiate it at the earliest.”
The government, he said, will have to keep in mind that there are certain “customary laws” in different states, “especially in the case of the Scheduled Tribes.”
“All those things are to be kept in mind. Some precaution has to be taken with regard to Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, so that there is no conflict with Article 44. So, I am very particular that this needs to be taken up. We will initiate our deliberations and discussions as early as possible. We would like to see that a uniform civil code is there in the country, so that it leaves a very good impression all over the world,” he said.