April 22, 2017 4:37:13 am
With a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court set to start a hearing on the constitutional validity of instantaneous triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) in May, the Law Commission has decided to hold in abeyance its own report on the matter till the apex court gives its final orders. Law Commission chairperson Justice B S Chauhan, however, has said that the Commission would be definitely looking at the issue of Uniform Civil Code.
“We are looking at the Uniform Civil Code, that is our reference, to look into what is possible within the framework of the Constitution,” Chauhan told The Indian Express. He added that the Commission is taking its time to tabulate the 40,000-odd responses and will only take up the issue in another two months or so, after the matter is settled in the court. Based on a directive from the Law Ministry, the Law Commission had issued its questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code on October 7, the day on which the Modi government filed its affidavit in the apex court supporting Shayara Bano’s plea for ban on talaq-e-bidat. Back then, the Law Commission had maintained that it was looking at reform of personal laws across religions and not just a Uniform Civil Code.
“Once the matter is argued before the Supreme Court, many issues of Constitutional or religious nature will be raised and that may help us, so we are going slow. If the court holds that you cannot interfere in religious matters, it will be binding on us. We do not want a situation where we take a view and the Supreme Court takes a contrary view,” Chauhan said. He added that while several political parties have already written to the Law Commission, many others that were silent in view of the UP elections are now expected to write in.
The issue of Uniform Civil Code, which has always been part of the BJP’s election manifesto, has re-entered the political discourse with renewed vigour after the UP elections. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have recently spoken out against the practice of triple talaq with the latter even going to the extent of presenting the Uniform Civil Code as the solution to ending the gender discriminatory practice.
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Recently, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which has always held that instantaneous triple talaq is wrong in practice and yet valid in law, met the Law Commission to voice its objection to any kind of state interference in the Shariat. “They (AIMPLB) said that they have signatures of over 1 crore Muslim women who say that they do not want any change in the practice. I told them that the matter is subjudice and, hence, it is not proper for us to discuss the issue. They handed over some papers to us which we will open only after the case is over before the Supreme Court,” said Chauhan.
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