In the backdrop of Monday 4th July 2016 Supreme Court of India judgement that marriage annulment granted by Ecclesiastical Tribunals (church courts) has no legal sanctity, there is an increasing demand for Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Even Cardinal Allencherry has supported introduction of UCC. The demand is gathering momentum due mainly to educated Muslim women many of whom have been victims of unilateral Triple Talaq. The article below which appeared in PGurus.COM gives a crystal-clear picture of the current developments – Isaac Gomes.
The Uniform Civil Code is back in the news. The Government of India has sought the views of the Law Commission how the controversial triple talaq system being practised by the Islamic community could be abolished. The Supreme Court is on record having asked the Centre to implement a uniform civil code across the country but the governments led by the Congress and other secular brigades were totally against the uniform civil code as it would antagonise the members (read male members) of the Islamic community. This will in turn upset the vote bank politics being practised by the Congress and the Communists in India.
The Constitution of India has stated categorically stated that it is the responsibility of the union government to endeavour to secure a uniform civil code for all citizens (Constitution of India-Part IV Article 44 Directive Principles of State Policy). Though it is more than four decades since the country became a sovereign republic, our political masters were procrastinating and putting off taking a decision on the issue.
Many things have happened in the past. Over the decades the BJP (even Jan Sangh, it’s predecessor), the Congress (O) led by Morarji Desai (whom the socialists and leftist used to chide as a right wing reactionary!) and even the CPI(M) demanded the introduction of a uniform civil code all across India. The CPI(M) had an alliance with a breakaway faction of the Muslim League in Kerala during 1980 to 1985. The All India Muslim League was a constituent of the Left Front in Kerala and had shared power in the E K Nayanar-led CPI(M) government (1980-82).
But when the Supreme Court of India in 1985 granted Shah Bano, a 62-year-old Muslim woman from Madhya Pradesh the right to alimony from her husband who divorced her after 14 years of marriage and five children, the then progressive looking Rajiv Gandhi government amended the Constitution to subvert the apex court verdict. The so called modern government of Rajiv Gandhi introduced in Parliament a law by name the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 which negated the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case.
t was to appease the Islamic zealots that the Congress government subverted the apex court verdict which resulted in further discrimination of women in the Muslim community. Seeing that the Uniform Civil Code has the potential to garner the votes of the Hindu majority, the CPI(M) jumped the gun and declared that the country should have a common civil code. “It is ok for a person to have a wife. But it is absolutely nonsense to demand that he should have the right to have more than one wife. And it is bunkum to state that a particular religion mandates that the community members could have four wives at a time. If Sharia demands so, we do not need such a Sharia in this country,” thundered EMS Namboodripad, the then general secretary of the CPI(M) while addressing a public meeting held at Thiruvananthapuram in 1985. This resulted in the All India Muslim League exiting the Left Democratic Front and merging with the parent body, the Muslim League. The united Muslaim League held a mammoth rally at Thiruvananthapuram in 1986 where the main slogan was this: “We will marry four times; we will marry eight times. We will also marry the wife and daughters of EMS.” The aging patriarch of the CPI(M) did not utter a single word against the Sharia or the Uniform Civil Code till his death in 1998! Since then the CPI(M) has kept a discreet silence over the issue even as the Muslim fanatics and fundamentalists reiterated their right to maintain four wives at a time!
Countries all over the world (except those governed by the Sharia) have switched over to the Uniform Civil Code. But the moment one speaks about the necessity to have a common civil code in India, hell will break loose. Even the so called liberals and progressive sections of the society term the demand for a common civil code as a hidden agenda of the Hindu fundamentalists!
Even as the Communists in India, especially the Marxists, are singing a different tune with respect to the common civil code, countries like Russia and China, the political masters and godfathers of Indian Communists have enacted laws making it compulsory for the all people in these countries to obey and follow common civil codes. Neither the Muslims not the Christians in these countries have any problem in following a common civil code.
here was a furore by a section of Islamists in Australia when the country decided to have a common civil code. Senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy had said recently at Chennai that while the Muslims had no issues in accepting Uniform Civil Code in United States and Australia, they are holding the Indian State to ransom in the name of minorities, pluralism and secularism. “When the Government of Australia decided to introduce Uniform Civil Code across the nation, certain Islamic fundamentalists came out against the move of the Government. The Australian Government told them bluntly that if they are not willing for the uniform civil code, they are free to move out of the country. Next day saw thousands of Muslims coming out in the open supporting the Government’s decision to introduce the uniform civil code,” said Swamy.
Even Markandeya Katju, a former Supreme Court judge had declared that it was time the country switched over to uniform civil code. “The continuing backwardness of the Muslim community is because there is no modernisation of their personal law. All modern countries have a common law applicable to everybody where as in India the situation is different,” said Katju.
A leading light who has challenged the conservative Islamists is none other than Zakia Soman of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan. It is the petition submitted by Soman and her colleagues to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has resulted in the Centre asking the Law Commission’s suggestions on the Uniform Civil Code. “The Uniform Civil Code and abolition of the triple talaq are Constitutional imperatives. What we demand is gender justice. The archaic Muslim Personal law has to be reformed and we want an immediate abolition of polygamy. This patriarchal polygamy prevalent in the Islamic religion in India should go once and forever,” Soman, a devout Muslim who offers prayers five times in a day, told PGurus.
It seems a storm is gathering momentum in the male dominated Muslim community and the orthodoxy is slowly understanding the truth that it is losing ground to the miniscule section of women who were fortunate enough to get modern education.