01/07/2016 5:23 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Government Sets The Ball Rolling On Implementation Of Uniform Civil Code

Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters
A Muslim woman prays before having her Iftar (breaking of fast) meal during the holy month of Ramadan at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India, June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A month ago, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in an interview to PTI that while there was the need for a debate on a "common" civil code in the country, the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the centre would not "thrust" it on the people.

"Definitely, there is a need (for a debate on common civil code). The Constitutional framers, they advocated it and they have put in directive principles (of state policy) hoping the country in due course will go for a uniform civil code. I call it as a common civil code. Uniform conveys a different meaning," Naidu said.

What Naidu advocated was important aspects of civil life, such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance and right to property, should fall under a common code, while ways of worship be left to the individual.

A month later, media reports suggest the Narendra Modi government has initiated the process by asking the Law Commission, an executive body that looks into legal reforms, to look into the implementation of the uniform civil code, a touchy subject in a country that celebrates religious diversity.

The BJP government has traditionally favoured the uniform civil code -- a set of common personal laws for Indians irrespective of religion. The Economic Times on Friday said in a report, quoting officials familiar with the matter, that the law ministry has sought a detailed report from the Law Commission on the issue.

News18 has quoted Law Commission chief Balbir Singh Chauhan as saying that he "will consult all the stakeholders and political parties before making an informed suggestion".

The 1985 Shah Bano case stirred up the debate around the need for a uniform civil code, supported by women's rights activists, and envisaged in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 44 of the Constitution (Directive Principles) states that "the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India." Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda had also said that "wider consultations" will be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus.