Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab Tuesday argued in Lok Sabha that it was time to implement the Uniform Civil Code in the country. He spoke to Deeptiman Tiwary on the issue.
What is your position on the Uniform Civil Code?
The debate during the constitutional framing… At that time, there was communal tension… but it was mentioned that we will move towards UCC as time passes. Now, 75 years after Independence, it is pertinent to have it. We have the IPC of 1860, we have the CrPC from 1947, but we don’t have a civil code. In a modern society, there should be one code.
Some will say you are taking the BJP line
I moved a private members’ bill last Friday (on the issue). UCC does not mean a Hindu Code. Muslim Marriage Act is one of the most modern codes where women have been given powers and rights. If one goes into the (Parliamentary) debates, one can find what the Jana Sangh had said earlier (on the issue). But other political parties should also come on board.
What should be the UCC’s form?
Ideally, the government should take the initiative and bring in different religious groups together to discuss UCC. First, the government has to prepare a draft. Accordingly, a discussion can take place. Different religious groups can have their opinion on it.
Given India’s vast diversity where tribal cultures have vastly different practices, how practical is it?
Tribal culture can also be factored into the code. The idea is not to impose one practice onto another. Certain basic rights should be uniform to everybody. Just look at how many cases are pending in different courts in civil suits. These cases are pending for decades. It is because we have different types of laws such as inheritance laws and marriage laws. Muslim personal law does not exist in even Pakistan and Iran. These need to change. Society leaders need to take initiative but the government has to make a beginning.
How will UCC benefit the country?
The country is one. CrPC and IPC are one for all. If UCC is one, it will help society become one. It will minimise litigation and give relief to the people. The difference that is recognised can make the society a cohesive one.