After the statement of PM Modi in Bhopal Public Meeting on UCC on Tuesday, that country cannot effectively operate under the burden of two parallel legal systems, highlighting the Constitutional principle of equal rights for all citizens and citing Supreme Court rulings that advocate for uniformity in laws, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board held an urgent meeting last night and discussed the legal aspects of the UCC in the context of PM Modi’s remarks.
One of the key members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Niyaz Farooqi, said, “We have decided to submit our views to the Law Commission, taking into account the points made by lawyers and experts.”
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board said, “This is an idea against the spirit of the Constitution and contrary to religious freedom.” Niyaz Farooqi alleged that “PM Modi has targeted Muslims in his speech. This is misleading. The law is a national concern. All sections of society need reforms.”
Senior Congress leader and lawyer P. Chidambaram said, “Family, nation not same and UCC can’t be forced.”
AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, “India’s PM considers India’s diversity & its pluralism a problem. So, he says such things. Maybe India’s Prime Minister doesn’t understand Article 29.” Further, he asked to NDA government, “Will you strip the country of its pluralism & diversity in the name of UCC?”
Samajwadi Party’s Muslim leaders said, “We will not abide by UCC, we will follow only Sharia law.”
There are so many leaders and so many voices against the UCC. Many political leaders are saying this is PM Modi’s poll gimmick. Assembly elections are very soon in several states, and general elections are to be held next year in April-May. Thus, BJP is trying to create a communal environment in the name of UCC. PM Modi wants to divert the attention of people from unemployment and inflation.
Now we have to look at the legal and constitutional aspects of the Uniform Civil Code and what Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar said about UCC.
Article 44 of the Constitution of India clearly says, “Uniform civil code for the citizens. The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India without differentiation of caste, creed, or religion.”
Dr. Ambedkar had said, “State shall endeavor to provide for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.” A Uniform Civil Code aims to replace personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of various religious communities with a common set of rules governing every citizen of the country. Till today, this idea has elicited mixed reactions. The Muslim community seems to have deep reservations against the UCC.
If Dr. Ambedkar was in full support of UCC, then why was it not implemented as and when the constitution was adopted? Actually, at that time, there was not strong opposition in front of Congress, and many Congress leaders were not ready to touch such a sensitive issue because Minority Muslims might feel secluded. Then, most of the parliamentarians were of the view that as time passed and wounds of Partition healed, the UCC could be implemented.
On the other hand, the UCC has been implemented in Goa since its independence, and there were no clashes found between the communities.
The Supreme Court of India, in several judgments, has called for the implementation of the UCC. In its Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano case of 1985, where a divorced Muslim woman demanded maintenance from her former husband, the SC, while deciding whether to give prevalence to the CrPc or the Muslim personal law, called for the implementation of the UCC.
The Court also called on the government to implement the UCC in the 1995 Sarla Mudgal judgment and in the Paulo Coutinho vs Maria Luiza Valentina Pereira case (2019).
In January this year, the present Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachur also said that states have the power to constitute committees on the Uniform Civil Code. Chief Justice DY Chandrachur was of the view that the UCC cannot be challenged as ultra vires the Constitution since it is within the executive powers of the state under Article 162.