Updated: January 27, 2017 6:40:20 am
Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar has written to the Law Commission, cautioning against an attempt to “impose” Uniform Civil Code without concurrence of various religious groups, especially minorities, and saying that it is “not a political instrumentality to be hurriedly imposed”. The communication sent by Nitish on January 25, in his capacity as JD(U) president, to Law Commission chairman Justice B S Chauhan notes that while the State must endeavour to bring in the Uniform Civil Code, such an effort, in order to be enduring, must be based on a broad consensus in its favour and not be imposed by a fiat.
This is the second communication by Nitish to the Law Commission, which has come in response to the panel’s October 20 letter addressed to him in his capacity as JD(U) chief. Earlier, in response to the Commission seeking the state government’s opinion on the code, Nitish had expressed his government’s inability to form an opinion on the issue in the absence of any specific information about its contours and also due to a lack of consensus among religious groups. The Bihar cabinet had, on January 10, given its nod to the Law Department’s rejoinder on the Uniform Civil Code. JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi told The Indian Express that the second response by Nitish is in his capacity as JD(U) president. He said the party urges all non-BJP state governments to pass cabinet proposals on the issue.
“We also appeal to national presidents of all non-BJP parties to clear their response on this issue. We also look forward to work with like-minded parties over the issue in Parliament when the Budget session begins,” Tyagi said. In his letter, Nitish noted that his party is aware that Article 44 of the Constitution states that the State shall endeavour to provide for all its citizens a Uniform Civil Code. “This clause is part of the Directive Principles and not under the section on Fundamental Rights. It is important to always remember that ours is a nation based on a delicate balance in respect of laws and governing principles for different religions and ethnic groups,” he wrote in the letter.
Best of Express Premium
“Any attempt, therefore, to impose a Uniform Civil Code, without obtaining through substantive consultations, the concurrence of various religious groups, especially the minorities, could lead to social friction and an erosion of faith in the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion,” Nitish said. The JD(U) president insisted that his party’s view is that such in-depth consultations have not yet taken place with various religious groups. “In the absence of such a process, any attempt at premature or hasty tampering with long-standing religious practices that deal with complex issues of marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and the right to property and succession, would be clearly inadvisable. The enforcement of a Uniform Civil Code would require all current laws applicable in such matters in respect of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Hindus (including Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) to be scrapped,” he said.
“Such a drastic step can hardly be taken without substantive consultations with all stakeholders, including state governments. It is also imperative that the concrete details of the Uniform Civil Code being proposed by the Central Government are made known in advance so as to enable all stakeholders to provide a detailed response,” he added. Nitish said that in his view, the Uniform Civil Code must be seen as a measure of reform for the welfare of the people, and “not a political instrumentality to be hurriedly imposed” against their wishes and without consultations with them.
🗞 Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access our in-depth reporting, explainers and opinions 🗞️
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.