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Why A Uniform Civil Code Will Be A Disaster For India

29/05/2017 8:49 AM IST | Updated 29/05/2017 8:49 AM IST
Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters

Political parties that are desperate to impose Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India are ignorant of the diversity of its cultures, customs, traditions, castes, ethnicity, languages and religious ideologies. From north to south and from east to west, each state in India has a different culture and a different outlook towards life.

"I kept on trying to use so many media and ideas in my work because our horizon is so vast and Indian culture is so rich that I think what we are today, culturally, we have a unique position and I don't think one lifetime is enough to encompass it." - M. F. Husain

Is Hindu Law Uniform

The Hindu Marriage Act was passed in 1955 and later, other acts related to issues of succession and maintenance were also passed. Some might believe that these enactments brought uniformity in law for all sections of Hindus. However, such claims would be incorrect. These laws have special considerations for Hindus living in different geographical regions, and belonging to different castes and ethnic groups.

For example, in some communities in southern India, marriage between an uncle and a niece is allowed and such unions are preferred. On the other hand, such marriages are proscribed and viewed as incestuous by Hindus in north India. How does one apply UCC in such situations?

One could go on. Another example is that of the inheritance laws. Mitakshara & Dayabhaga are the two different types of methods that the Hindu Inheritance Law provides. People can choose either of the two methods to bestow inheritance. However, the Mitakshara Law doesn't apply in Bengal and Assam. How do you explain the exceptions given to Hindus of Bengal & Assam?

Nagaland, Mizoram and Tribal States of the North East

At one point, Nagas had picked up weapons against India and demanded 'Naga Sovereignty'. The insurgency went on for years until an agreement was reached that:

"No Act or law passed by the Union Parliament affecting the following provisions shall have legal force in the Nagaland unless specially applied to it by a majority vote of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly."

(a) The Religious or Social Practices of the Nagas

(b) The Customary Laws and Procedure

(c) Civil and Criminal Justice so far as these concern decision according to the Naga Customary Law.

A similar amendment was introduced for Mizoram as well in 1968, after a long armed struggle with the Indian forces. Subsequently, the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution was enacted to guarantee similar provisions to other North Eastern states such as Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Tripura. However, Article 44 of the Constitution says that "The State shall endeavor to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." If this article is to be implemented across entire India, this would require these amendments for North Eastern tribal states be removed. Imagine what would be the outcome of such a move?

Ironically, while the torch bearer of UCC call themselves saviours who are carrying the baton of peace, they fail to understand that any attempt to impose UCC will be suicidal as it will incite an armed insurgency across the border states.

Threat to Pluralistic Fabric of India

UCC will be detrimental to communal harmony of India and will be against the ethos of religious freedom.

The notion that only Muslims are opposed to UCC is baseless. UCC is equally disadvantageous for other minorities, and also for a good number of Hindu castes. Hindus will not like their cultural and customary laws being annulled. It will only create conflicts and disputes among them. The Christian Catholics will not accept it as they strictly adhere to the Canon Law concerning marriage that is recognised as the personal law of Catholics in India.

Muslims will never accept UCC at any cost and will protest against it. Such attempts to restrict religious freedom of Muslims will not be endured by Muslim leaders and religious scholars and they will challenge it with all their might.

UCC will be detrimental to communal harmony of India and will be against the ethos of religious freedom.

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