UNIFORM CIVIL CODE

UNIFORM CIVIL CODE

Hemraj Steno

BJP held meeting of its National executive at Delhi on 02-06-2008.After this meeting; it declared that if it forms Govt at Centre, it will implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Recently also, the chairman of its election manifesto committee Mr Murli Manohar Joshi has talked of Uniform Civil Code being a core issue besides other issues and stressed that it is not negotiable. Prima facie one civil code for all the citizens seems to be a right idea. What we must note here that BJP has never clarified which UCC it is talking about. One must look into this issue from all possible angles to arrive at right decision. So let us deliberate on it.

First of all, one must understand the meaning of word ‘civil’. When this word is used in context of uniform civil code, it involves personal and family relations, e: g; marriage, divorce, succession, adoption etc.

Now let us take all their points regarding bringing uniformity in civil code one by one. BJP often says that it is written in our constitution that Uniform Civil Code should be implemented. Those who has not read (or deeply thought over it) this article of constitution, may be trapped to think it to be right. So let us have a look at this article.

“Article 44 of Constitution-Uniform Civil Code for the citizens- The state shall endeavour to secure the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”

The word “endeavour” here requires full attention. This word means ‘to try’, so the state shall try to achieve the uniform civil code rather than implement it through laws without considering it deeply. So when this issue was discussed in constituent assembly, all the present parties supported its inclusion in the directive principles portion rather than in the fundamental rights portion.

What are directive principles? “The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any Court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws”., means that these directive principles are only directive. That is the reason that our highest court( Supreme court) in “ Panna Lal Bansi Lal v/s Andhra pardesh Govt.” case has categorically stated that a uniform constitution may be required for all the citizens but to implement it through the laws will be against the unity of the country.

So if same law is applied on different communities, it will be against the spirit of the constitution and we will be discriminating against one (or more than one) community.

So this argument of BJP that UCC is in the constitution is without substance.

Their second argument is that uniform civil code will help in national integration. Let us consider this also. Is it not true that when our county was under direct control of British capitalists, the RSS, the torch bearer of the BJP, in absence of uniform civil cod, did not consider anti-British movement a nationalist movement and that is why they did not participate in it ? Only BJP can answer this. But even in absence of uniform civil code, our nation fought against the British unitedly. Bhagat Singh and his comrades merrily kissed the noose raising slogans of ‘Inqlab Zindabad’, Ashfaq ulla Khan kissed the hangman’s rope happily holding the holy Quran in his hand and Ram Parshad Bismill went to the gallows reciting the Geeta verses. Which uniform civil code was applicable for these martyrs? So the strength or weakness of the national unity does not depend on its laws only but its basis is something else. What is that basis?

That basis is the level upto which a person feels himself secure in a nation and how much the nation is concerned about his needs. If a person is reeling under the pangs of hunger and feels himself insecure, he will certainly have a sense of alieniation. It will weaken his national spirit. This is one of the reasons for the weak national spirit in the oppressed sections of a nation.

Contrary to this, there is also one section of the nation which after looting its own national brethren, and still unsatisfied, becomes disloyal to its own nation. The history has numerous such examples.

So the conclusion is that when there are two sections in a nation, one exploiter and other being exploited, this is in reality not a one nation though it may look so on the surface. Both the sections have different viewpoint about the concept of a nation. To implement uniform civil code on such nation is not more than day dreaming.

So the argument that implementation of uniform civil code will strengthen national unity also has no substance.

Now let us take their third argument. BJP says that population of Muslims and Christians is increasing because they are not under civil code of our country. But this is not true. Eminent social-scienctist Mr Ram Puiniani disproves this thesis based on hard facts as under:

As per 1971 census, Hindus were 82.7 per cent and Muslims were 11.2 percent of the total population. As per 1991 census, these figures were 82.6 and 11.4 percent respectively. Even if this difference in population growth continues, the Muslim population would not surpass the Hindu population even upto the end of next century. Opposite to this if the growth figures of population for the period 1961-71 and 1971-81 are analysed, one can see that Hindu growth rate increased from 23.71 to 24.42 percent while Muslim growth rate decreased from 30.85 to 30.20 per cent. If this rate remains same for 100 years after 1981, then the Hindu growth rate at 30.71 per cent would still be higher of the Muslim growth rate at 30.55 per-cent.

So in reality, the Muslim population increase in not higher than that of Hindu increase. Still the BJP undertakes false propaganda that Muslim population is increasing at faster rate because their religion - Islam allows four marriages for a man. So they say that their slogan of “we two, our’s two” becomes “they five, their twenty five” for the Muslims due to which Muslim population is increasing at faster rate. Is it true?

As per 1961 census, the custom of polygamy is prevalent in tribals to the tune of 15.25 per cent, in Bodhis, 7.9 , in Jain religion 6.72 , in Hindus 5.80 and in Muslims it is 5.70 per cent. So one can see that the Muslims are at the lowest figure in this aspect. But now this custom of polygamy is decreasing in both the Hindus and Muslims. So the argument that the Muslim population is increasing due to prevalence of polygamy in them is also a hollow argument.

Let us look into the case of Christians also .This religion entered our country in 52 A. D. We were ruled for 200 years by the followers of this religion. But as per 1981 census they were only 2.6 per cent of our total population and decreased to 2.4 per cent in 1991.So their population did not increase although the Christian missionaries are preaching hard for spreading their religion. So the propaganda regarding increase in Christian population is also totally false.

The mute point is that if the whole nation leads or can lead a happy and prosperous life, there will be no point to worry about that which community’s population is increasing at more or less rate. Actually by raising the boggy of population increase of one community and thus need of uniform civil code, presenting itself as the champion of economic , political and social rights of other community and thus flaring up their passions to consolidate its base is a very deceitful strategy of BJP to wrest political power.

Let us for a while, leave aside all these issues and have a look at the factual position of our society. In the culture of our country, there are different customs and rituals of different religions, non religious groups, castes and creeds. In Sikhism, religious verses from Sri Granth Sahib are read while in Hindu religion; “pheras” (going around the fire) are undertaken to soliminise a marriage. In Islam it is soliminised through the ceremony of ‘Niqah’ while non –religious people do it only by garlanding each other or registering the marriage in a court. So for the commencement of married life, there are differences in the customs and rituals adopted by not only a religious and non-religious people but also among different religions. It means that being a multi-regilious, multi linguistic and multi- racial country, our culture is also multi-coloured and multi-faceted.

Imagine if tomorrow non-religious groups come to power and order the religious people not to perform their religious customs and rituals for soliminising their marriages, would it be proper? No. On the contrary, if people belonging to one particular religion come to power and order the persons of other religions to follow their religious customs and rituals for their marriage ceremonies, then this would also be improper. It means such an order issued by any one religious or non-religious side would be a direct interference in the personal and family life of other person and amounts to curtailing his personal freedom and imposing their dictatorship. So non-consideration of prevalence of various customs and rituals due to cultural diversity of the country before implementing the uniform civil code would lead to anarchistic situation in our society.

So considering the issue from humanistic angle, everyone is entitled to lead his/her personal and family life as per his/her own religious/ non-religious beliefs. It should be only his/her right to choose his/her belief system. Govt. should not interfere in it. Where is the Govt. concern in it?

Govt. is concerned only when beyond some-one’s personal freedom, his/her actions affect the society at large like theft, murder, rape or such other anti social activities. Then his actions are not personal but become social problem. To solve these social problems, the British Govt. enacted following laws (right or wrong) which are uniform for all the communities.

1. India penal code

2. Criminal procedure code

3. Indian evidence act

So we can conclude , that all the arguments of BJP such as uniform civil code is included in the constitution, it would lead to unity of the nation or there is faster growth of Muslim or Christian population are without any substance and are hollow. These arguments do not form any basis for the implementation of uniform civil code.

Now the point to be considered is that by giving such hollow arguments, what type of the uniform civil code the BJP wants to bring in? And why are they so adamant about it?

Except the Mannu Smriti, they have no other code to implement. If they had another code, they would have presented it. Their intention of implementing Mannu’s code becomes more clear when the BJP Govt. of Rajasthan state, erects Mannu’s statue in Rajasthan High Court. There were protests against this. But despite this being against the constitution, they have not removed that statue.

One may think that what is benefit to Sangh Privar for implementing uniform civil code. Taking from negative side, it may seem that if there is no benefit to them, why are they so adamant about it. Their persistent efforts for its implementation indicate that there must be some benefits to them.

Let us look at it from positive angle. Point number 30 of leaked out secret agenda of R.S.S, states that “traders, jewellars and businessmen should be motivated to adopt such policies that lead to reduction of wealth in hands of non-Hindus”

So their intention is to enslave the non-Hindu population of the country by adopting such secret and immature tactics which lead the non-Hindus to poverty. This is the reason they are shouting for implementation of uniform civil code.

Let it be clear that as per Mannu’s civil code , there were four, vernas, (castes), These were Brahmin, Kshatrya- meaning non-working and ruling section, Vaisah and Shuddara meaning working and oppressed section. What Mannu says about working and oppressed section demands consideration? He writes that if a Shuddar sits at the same level at which a person of some higher ‘verna’ is sitting, his ( shuddar’s) back should be burnt with a red hot iron rod and he be extradited from the country. Further Mannu adds that “murder of a woman, a shudder and an atheist is not a sin.”

So they want to implement Mannu’s code in garb of uniform civil code which would facilitate the economic, political and social and all type of exploitation of working classes.

But our, this discussion should not be taken as that we do not want any type of civil code. It should be implemented but not through any law but with delibrations and motivation of other religious and non-religious people. Because the purpose of law should be to unite rather then divide a society as Lord Scarman has stated:

 

“The purpose of the law is not to suppress the different groups forming a society but a form such a system of political, social and legal sources so that people forming such a diverse society do not leave that society and it is not destroyed.”

Besides this, let us take another point. There is Hindu Succsession Act of 1956.It states that “this act is applicable on every such person who is a Hindu from any religious aspect”. Veershda, Lingiayt, Brahmo, Prarthna, Arya Samaj,.Bodhi, Jaini and Sikhs, all have been included in it when everyone knows that that Bodhi, Jaini and Sikhs are not part of Hindu religion.

Its title should be changed to “ Indian Succession Act” .Because making any law based on one particular religion is not only direct interference of the Govt in religious matters but also against the secular character of the Govt. Similarly keeping in mind the different customs and rituals of different sections of the country, ‘Common, Secular and Uniform Civil Code’ should be formed which does not have a tinge of one particular religion.

 

References:

1 Commentry on The Constitution of India- Nineth Edition- Orient Publishing Company, New Delhi , Allahabad, 2004 …..P 368

2 Ibid Part IV- Directive Principles Of State Policy-37 Application of the Principles contained in this Part –P 361

3 Humanist –March 2007 R A Jahagirdhar reference –p 8

4 Ibid p 9

 

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