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SC bans triple talaq - Will the Modi govt push for Uniform Civil Code?
Although through a split verdict of 3:2, but the 5-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in its historic verdict struck down instant triple talaq, which is one of the most regressive and discriminatory practices prevalent in Indian Muslim society.

The hegemony of clerics on Muslim personal law (on marriage and divorce) was simply rejected and termed unconstitutional. This now gives an opportunity to the country to move towards a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) because the stiffest opposition always came from Islamic clerics and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

Since I'm no expert on Islamic law, hence have never written or debated triple talaq as it could be a sensitive issue for many. Although we're all aware of the discriminatory nature of triple talaq, but yet one is compelled to wonder, why reforms are not possible?

No personal law is perfect. I belong to the Hindu faith which has been constantly reformed to get rid of regressive laws and customs and the reforms process still continues. For example, divorce was never in any scripture of Hindusim and rather it was said that marriages extend across seven lives. But later, not only was divorce incorporated into the religion, but registration of marriages was also made compulsory.

Many blind beliefs and regressive customs such as untouchability, child marriage, sati, dowry and polygamy were shelved from Hinduism through the passage of time. Recently, the courts intervened and mandated the entry of women in to sanctum sanctorums of temples and other religious places which was banned by custom until recently. I always feel that reforms are always welcome and in its ruling on triple talaq on Tuesday, the SC put its foot down and said that the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution can't be undermined in the name of religion.

Now coming back to the UCC. I really wonder why many Muslim scholars and clerics feel that vouching for the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code is a conspiracy by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to forcefully impose personal laws of the majority community (read Hindu community) over the minority (read Muslim).

I don't know whether they are ill-informed of the basics of Uniform Civil Code or they are intentionally trying to confuse people to maintain their ascendancy over the religion.

If this isn't the case, then probably my understanding of the UCC might be incorrect! However, despite my diminutive knowledge on the subject, here's what I have gathered of the UCC from various articles written by scholars from across multiple faiths and the underlining spirit of the Uniform Civil Code as debated in the Constituent Assembly in 1948 under Article 35 of the Indian Constitution.

Uniformity is the basis of UCC. It doesn't say that Hindu personal law is to be imposed on Muslims or vice versa. It just says personal laws of different religions must follow uniformity. The only uniformity is that all personal laws must be gender-just and non-discriminatory and should not infringe fundamental rights of any citizen irrespective of gender, religion, caste, race or community. That means all personal laws must be codified in such a manner that they remain coherent with the Constitutional spirit.

Let me give some examples. If there's a fixed minimum age for marriage, it must be followed in every civil code. If marriages need to be compulsorily registered then it must be followed by all personal laws. If divorce is to be initiated through a court of law, then it must be followed by every personal law. The alimony/maintenance must be similar in all personal laws.

The only thing to be ensured is that no one should not be discriminated on gender basis just because the religion says so. The only point is that in case of a divorce, irrespective of the faith one belongs to, the aggrieved party (male or female) should have the right to knock the court's door and seek judicial relief if he/she feels that justice has not been done to him/her.

Similarly, inheritance laws must be same for all religions. Just because one belongs to to a particular religion, he/she can't be deprived of inheritance of estate and property. Furthermore, adoption rules also need to be uniform and simple across all faiths.

Once upon a time there was one child policy in China which was applicable on people of all religions and even non-believers. This is called uniformity. Uniformity in civil code is not imposing one's personal code on the other, but rather making different personal codes devoid of gender-bias.

I would request readers to post their comments if by any chance my understanding of Uniform Civil Code is wrong in any way!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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