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In response to an invitation by Law Commission Big No to Uniform Civil Code

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Who are interested in UCC?
The clamour for UCC comes from at least three forces.

First are forces of Hindutva (nor Hindu community at large), less out of any ideological convictions, and more out of desire to dominate. They think that for Hindus to be united as a monopolising power, best course of action would be to pose Muslims and their religion as threats to Hindua and their religion, and to ensure that they are not allowed to develop into a socially, economically and politically powerful community at par with Hindus.

Second is market forces that regard moral and family values enshrined in religions as a massive obstacle in their plans of turning human beings into commercial beings. They are particularly aggressive against Islam, because it has clear distinction between permitted and prohibited, and its followers are more determined believers in their religious system. They seek to commercialise every human weakness.

Third is leftist forces whose socio-economic ideology does not recognise religion altogether.

The myth of Uniformity: different laws in India

Laws are not only different in different states on the ground of their special status but also related to the issues of various prohibitions, taxes, etc. Articles giving different status to different states include :
• Article 369, Parliammt’s right to enact different laws foor different states
• 371 {Special provision of Maharashtra and Gujarat} 371A {of Nagaland}
• 371B {Assam}
• 371C {Manipur}
• Articles 371D & 371E {Andhra Pradesh and Telangana}
• 371F {Sikkim}
• 371G {Mizoram}
• 371H {Arunachal Pradesh}
• 371I {State of Goa}
• Art 370 has recently been abrogated.

Then, till recently there was Armed Forces Special Powers Act for Tripura.

Despite Hindi being National Language, language policy of different states is different. In Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, languages other than Hindi are official.

Laws related to alcohol and cow slaughter are also different in different states. There is no ban on cow slaughter in Arunachal, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Kerala and West Bengal.

Reservation policy in education and jobs is different for different states and for different communities.

Even tax policies vary from state to state.

Directive Principles
First, Directive Principles are only guidelines and not enforceable.

Second, Article 44 related to Common Civil Code is not the only directive principle not yet enforced. There are many others, which are much more important as they relate to the common masses. For example, there is a directive principle that the State shall work towards reducing economic inequality as well as inequalities in status and opportunities, not only among individuals, but also among groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.

Hindutva Brigade does never raise this issue because their upper caste Hindu fellows are most responsible for the huge and ever increasing economic disparity in the country. And of course, they will not even like the mention of Economic Inequality between Hindu and Muslim communities, which again is quite big. It also says that “The State should work to prevent concentration of wealth and means of production in a few hands, and try to ensure that ownership and control of the material resources is distributed to best serve the common good”. As we have seen in the Forbes’ list of 100 richest Indians, wealth is concentrated only in the hands of Upper Caste Hindus, especially Vaishyas. But Hindutva Brigade not only does not talk about it but also keeps supporting measures that further accentuate this inequality. Let us enumerate some of the directive principles and their application.

Article 38 asks for efforts to develop a model which does not increase Economic Inequality. And the truth is that the successive governments have been doing exactly the opposite with economic inequality reaching dangerous proportions.

Article 39 asks for providing an adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, equal pay for equal work for men and women, proper working conditions, reduction of the concentration of wealth and means of production from the hands of a few, and distribution of community resources to “subserve” the common good. Again the government policies in last few decades have been just opposite, and the current BJP government has left even the previous governments far behind in pursuing the corporate agenda.

For several years, I have been demanding introduction of Economic Disparity Index (General Rural-Urban and community to community) in the Annual Budget. But Economic Disparity remains the least talked about subject in the polity as well as the media.Articles 41–43 mandate the State to endeavour to secure to all citizens the right to work, a living wage, social security, maternity relief, and a decent standard. These provisions aim at establishing a socialist state but we have been witnessing a rapid privatisation of economy. Article 43 also places upon the State the responsibility of promoting cottage industries, and khadi, handlooms etc. Again, the small scale industry is being purposely strangulated through a coordination of the corporate sector and the Government.

Article 39A requires the State to provide free legal aid to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are available to all citizens irrespective of economic or other disabilities. Justice in the country is becoming costlier and costlier with the legal machinery becoming a big industry. Instead of crimes getting reduced, they are reaching greater heights with every passing day.

Article 43A mandates the State to work towards securing the participation of workers in the management of industries. With the Left movement growing weak, there is none to speak for workers any more.

Article 45 originally mandated the State to provide free and compulsory education to children between the ages of six and fourteen years. This is perhaps the only directive principle which has attracted attention.

Article 47 commits the State to raise the standard of living and improve public health, and prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs injurious to health. Alcohol industry is growing leaps and bounds. Where Prohibition is introduced, the lobbies soon turn it into a failure. The consumption of alcohol and the attendant problems are creating havoc in society with huge rise in crimes including rapes, accidents and other alcohol and drug-related hazards.

The State is also mandated by Article 48 to organise agriculture and animal on modern and scientific lines by improving breeds and prohibiting slaughter of cattle. Again, what has been done cannot e regarded satisfactory.

Article 48A mandates the State to protect the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country, while Article 49 places an obligation upon the State to ensure the preservation of monuments and objects of national importance. There has been almost total failure on both fronts. With the growing industrialisation and urbanisation, environment and public health are the biggest sufferers.

Article 50 requires the State to ensure the separation of judiciary from executive in public services, in order to ensure judicial independence, and federal legislation has been enacted to achieve this objective. The interference of politics in judiciary is ever on the rise. When retired judges are made governors, the message to the judges goes far and loud: act in favour of the Government; and you will have a grand future ahead after retirement.

“Fundamental Rights” is a part and parcel of every constitution throughout the world. “Fundamental Rights” implies rights of individuals in matters concerned with themselves, which in extension applies to the families and communities in matters that do not affect the other communities. Nobody has the right to enforce their own laws on them. Personal Law is something which is purely an internal matter of Muslims, which does not affect in anyway the other communities. If there are any issues with the way Islamic laws are interpreted and implemented, they must discuss it among themselves, and take corrective actions within the parameters of Islam, which provides the most balanced and scientific system of peace at the individual level, family level and social level. If certain problems are there, they should take stock of the situation, can benefit from the opinions of different schools of thought within Islam instead of sticking to just one school.

If Muslims want to continue with Muslim Personal Law, notwithstanding the need of certain reforms needed to make it more in tune with the letter and spirit of Islam, it is because they have absolute faith in Islam as the guarantor of peace at every level, individual, family and social. We cannot have a compromise on this because compromise would mean accepting either older, distorted versions of other religions, which are not being followed even by their own communities, or accepting the modern principles, which are guided more by the commercial and less by health and peace considerations. Hindu religion in its original form had no system of divorce, because marriage was no agreement or contract like Islam but an unbreakable bondage in which the girl is donated by the parents to the husband. Older scriptures allow innumerable marriages of man, Krishna had 8 formal wives and several thousand other wives taken in marriage, as claimed by Hindu scholars, to end their captivity.

Some Hindu tribes do also have a custom of women having multiple husbands, a custom which has found proponents in some Hindu scholars of today who find it as the only option considering the declining women/men ratio in population. Hindu women in traditional religion also did not enjoy equal religious rights. Sati Pratha was considered a favoured position that a woman should ideally take at the death of her husband. There was of course no possibility of a divorcee getting married again. Hindus have compromised on most of these positions, and taking clue from Islam, they have allowed divorces and the marriages of divorcees and widows. There was no provision of inheritance to women, and here again they have taken a clue from Islam, the first religion to give women rights in inheritance in parents’, children’s as well as husbands’ properties.

Dr. Javed Jamil, Chair in Islamic Studies and Research Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka Phone: 8130340339

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