The Law Commission of India, which has started consultations to formulate recommendations for a uniform civil code (UCC), has sought the views of Muslim groups on at least seven key issues including custody of children, inheritance and adoption, it is learnt. Sources said that the panel has also asked various stakeholders to recommend a model Nikahnama and Talaqnama that can be implemented uniformly across the country.
Sources told The Indian Express that the panel asked about Muslim personal law not allowing a mother to be the natural guardian and also cited the differences in the interpretation of Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki or Hanbali law.
The Commission headed by Justice B S Chauhan is presently holding consultations with over 30 individuals and religious institutions. It has already held deliberations with former law minister Salman Khurshid, BJP leader and lawyer A K Upadhyay and various Muslim groups including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
On inheritance, the panel is learnt to have sought detailed legal opinions on daughters inheriting half the share of what sons inherit. During the deliberations, sources said, the panel looking through the lens of “gender justice” asked stakeholders to submit citations from the Quran or Hadees about the circumstances under which daughters and sons can inherit property equally.
The panel has also sought opinions on maintenance and share in the property to the wife and children of a predeceased son. The Commission also asked about the duty of the father and father-in-law in maintenance to a widow and her children.
Referring to the custody of children, it is learnt that the panel asked Muslim groups to cite different precedents where the “best interest of the child would prevail”. The panel has sought opinions on issues related to ‘hizanat’ (custody): the distinction between the legal and natural heir and who can maintain custody of the child without guardianship.
The Commission, sources said, has cited differences between Shia and Sunni law concerning custody of children. Citing Shia law, where a mother loses custody of the son after two years and Sunni law, in which custody is with the mother till puberty and 7 years of age for boys, the panel asked if there existed a religious source that advises otherwise.
The panel also sought opinions on whether there are dar-ul-qaza (Islamic court) judgments in which the best interest of the child would prevail. It has also asked for religious sources on reasons Muslim personal law does not permit a mother to be a natural guardian.
On the issue of adoption, it is learnt that the panel sought opinions around sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, which allows a relative of the child to adopt, and asked if the same could be part of the UCC. The Commission also asked stakeholders to produces religious texts in which Islam specifically allows adoption in specific circumstances and the rights of the adopted child.