Uniform Civil Code draft handed over to law panel chief

Eight eminent citizens, including scholars, a retired senior Army officer, two Magsaysay award winners, writers, classical singer and a legal luminary have lent their weight to the draft.

Written by Seema Chishti | New Delhi | Updated: October 12, 2017 1:52 pm
The signatories include TM Krishna (singer and artiste), S Irfan Habib (historian), Mukul Kesavan (writer), Dushyant (lawyer), Maj Gen S Vombetkere (retd), Nilanjana Roy (writer), Gul Panag (actor) and Bezwada Wilson (Safai Karamchari Andolan).

A draft of a potential Uniform Civil Code, termed the ‘Progressive Uniform Civil Code’ (PUCC) was presented to the Chairman of the Law Commission, Justice (retd) BS Chauhan by a group of eminent citizens from various walks of life.

Last year, Justice Chauhan was tasked with helping formulate a draft on Uniform Civil Code, that the government could consider later. The Law Commission sent out a questionnaire to several faith groups, leading to some hostility and concerns over ensuring that Constitutional values apply to all personal laws. Sources close to the Commission said that the Draft UCC is a work in progress.

Soli Sorabjee, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, who was the Attorney General under the previous NDA government, wrote a letter to Justice Chauhan in support of the initiative. He said that “the Law Commission should obviate any apprehension that anything uniform, would be majoritarian. Besides its recommendations need to be far-sighted and progressive.”

Eight eminent citizens, including scholars, a retired senior army officer, Magsasay award winning activist and a classical singer, writers and a legal luminary have lent their weight to a draft that purports to provide “equal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody, guardianship, inheritance and succession”, that too “irrespective of their gender, sex and sexuality, religious or cultural traditions or beliefs.” It sets out at the onset to bring about progressive uniform laws, “in line with globally accepted values of human rights”.

The signatories include TM Krishna (singer and artiste), S Irfan Habib (historian), Mukul Kesavan (writer), Dushyant (lawyer), Maj Gen S Vombetkere (retd), Nilanjana Roy (writer), Gul Panag (actor) and Bezwada Wilson (Safai Karamchari Andolan).

Krishna said; “The idea of a UCC has been floated by people for sometime now. But under the present political dispensation there has been a conscious attempt to use it to create a Hindu majoritarian country. The targets of such an agenda are the minorities, which include religious, sexual and socially marginalised citizens of India whom they want to homogenise as per upper-caste Hindu norms. This needs to be challenged with robustness. We have therefore proposed a UCC that is progressive, forward thinking and creative. It looks at the wonderful possibilities that exist in such an idea.”

Magsaysay Award winners, TM Krishna, Bezwada Wilson and lawyer Dushyant met the Chairman of the Law Commission on Wednesday to submit a draft proposal to him for his perusal.This draft, defines marriage as “a legal union” between straight and gay couples. On many matters, like divorce, it aims to provide perfect equality between both partners, irrespective of gender.

“I have been grappling with the question of personal laws of various religions, and the need for an UCC which is not only uniform but more importantly progressive. Inequities caused by one set of laws should not be replaced by inequities and discrimination of another type in the garb of UCC. The group came together on that fundamental premise,” said Dushyant who drafted the proposal.

If brought into force, Triple Talaq, unequal rights of men and women to parental property, polygamy, and unequal privileges like the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), which allows for special tax concessions to Hindus would go.

“We need a UCC that rejoices in humanity, a law that attempts to equalise the inequalities inherent in our society, a code that celebrates and protects every individual, their rights, faiths, sexualities and choices. This draft is such an attempt, which is open to discussion and debate,” Krishna added.

Article 44 of the Constitution (Directive Principle of State Policy) states that ‘The State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India’. UCC has been an article of faith with the ruling BJP and a core issue with them since the 1980s, ever since the Congress government under Rajiv Gandhi was seen to have sided with the Muslim orthodoxy on the question of maintenance given to divorced women and reversed the Supreme Court order in the Shah Bano case in 1987.

More recently, the instantaneous Triple Talaq case in the Supreme Court in August and the task given to the Law Commission to formulate a draft Uniform Civil Code has led to a lot of talk on this issue. While Indians can currently opt for secular laws, most go by the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsi Laws which the Constitution allows all believers to abide by.

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  1. S
    Nov 3, 2017 at 7:31 am
    Wife make 498a, dowry Act, Domectic violence act, 307, 323, etc.. Either one do Talaq in one sitting or each Talaq in every month, husband has to face court trial for 5 to 10 yrs. Before talaq, be bold strong to fight case, prepare your mentality stronger and then decide. Government should save husband and husband family , when wife spoil their lives completely. Triple Talaq in one sitting / OR one talaq each month in 3 sitting is not much difference. Only there is difference of days. Bride and Groom are HARAM to each other after 60 days of TALAQ. Government should save muslim personal shariah law and should not do any changes in personal law.
    1. S
      Oct 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm
      Please do not quarrel. First bring the effective law for rape and murder crimes with its effective implementation. And remember that in the country like India, where pluralism is there, the definition of democracy gets changed according to the context. In Indian scenario, here democracy should not be considered falsely for Majoritarian. In actual sense democracy is to secure all the citizens physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally provided one's action or belief should not disturb the public interest. If any action or belief clashes with the common sense, then it becomes crime. And this should be stopped forcefully.
      1. c
        ch.srinivasa rao
        Oct 12, 2017 at 10:07 am
        Islam and muslims always follow reverse procedures ,these people if majority indians say yes,minority will answer no.what is democracy? majority rules should follow.Marriage laws should specify as indian law,not as hindu,muslim,Sikh and other religion laws
        1. K
          kulaputra kulaputra
          Oct 12, 2017 at 6:25 am
          If UCC demands that majority also accept triple talaq, then it is acceptable ? If UCC validates that armed Jihad is OK, then majority should accept it ? Let us apply common sense. This is a Hindu majority country. If other religions want anything other than UCC which is the will of majority (and pretty sensible too - for example practices like Sati are outlawed), then they are free to go. Will UCC ensure that we do not have to listen to loudspeakers 5 times a day ?or that goats will not be lined up for animal sacrifice on a certain day ?
          1. M
            Oct 12, 2017 at 6:05 am
            What is democracy MINUS majority (majoritarian)? Where did you learn that majority should not parti te in a democracy? Stinky little fellow! There has to be an end to all mutated ideas! Another guy in the subcontinent came with the idea of Basic Democracy! Can't forget your feudal root you s t u p i d creature! How much time you have been spending on this make believe democracy? Is this another Bollywood truth imposed on the people?
            1. Shyamal Ganguly
              Oct 12, 2017 at 6:47 am
              You are logical. democracy means Majority rules. No ifs and buts. Tell all the SICKULAR, DUMBOS, PERVERTS - that is how the laws are made in the LokSabha and RajyaSabha - by majority. No special laws for Morons.
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