13th July 2023
The Law Commission of India
Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market,
New Delhi, 110 003.
Subject: UCC is an alien idea that ideologically clashes with the Constitution of India!
Honorable members of the Law Commission of India,
Apropos the 22nd Law Commission of India public notice dated June 14, 2023, soliciting views and ideas from the public and recognized religious organizations about the Uniform Civil Code, we, the people of India and members of the Indian Minority Intellectuals Forum, comprising politicians, activists, religious scholars, academics, lawyers, journalists, and members from various sections of society, wish to present our views on the UCC.
Our viewpoint is simple and humble: the UCC is an alien idea that ideologically clashes with the great Constitution of India.
Logically, the UCC has no scope in a country as diverse as India, where culture, language, traditions, and even accents change every few miles. Implementing the UCC would raise significant legal concerns and is practically unfeasible.
India’s diversity is evident in the existence of various groups, tribes, sects, and communities, each with its own code of conduct for civil and societal affairs within the family system. It is difficult to dismantle these diverse systems considering the guarantees provided by the Fundamental Rights.
According to estimates, India has 1,652 languages considered mother tongues, and the Indian constitution recognizes 22 major languages mentioned in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. From Sanskrit to Urdu to Punjabi to Telugu, at least 22 languages enjoy constitutional recognition. This is why India does not have a single common language.
We believe that the UCC directly interferes with the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the citizens of India by the Constitution.
Implementing a uniform civil law would compromise the Right to Freedom of Religion, as guaranteed in Article 25, which protects freedom of conscience, profession, practice, and propagation. The UCC would compromise the civil norms derived from religion, culture, customs, or other beliefs that define various tribes, communities, or groups in India, and our Constitution safeguards these values.
Concerns of tribal communities
We must also consider the concerns of tribal communities in India, recognized under ‘Schedule 5’ of the Constitution, referred to as ‘Scheduled Tribes.’ With approximately 645 distinct tribes, each having their own norms, particularly regarding marriage and inheritance, it would be inappropriate to override these value systems based on individual beliefs with a single law.
Concerns of Muslim community
For Muslims, marriage is seen as a civil contract guided by divine laws mentioned in the Holy Quran and Hadith, consolidated into the Shariat. Islamic culture places importance on Islamic values in marriage, empowering women’s rights to choose life partners through Nikah. Implementing the UCC
would compromise the Cultural Rights guaranteed in Article 29, aimed at protecting the interests of minorities.
Concerns of Hindu community
The Hindu community also faces threats to its practices due to the UCC. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1956 accounts for regional variations to respect distinct beliefs rooted in Vedic or Hindu cultural traditions. The prohibition of marriage within the same gotra (clan) in Vedic/Hindu culture is significant. Implementing the UCC would infringe upon the religious beliefs of the Hindu community, as it would require defining and enforcing the gotra system uniformly.
The UCC clashes with Article 371
The UCC clashes with Article 371, which guarantees special rights and privileges to specific places. Article 371A, for instance, has special provisions for the State of Nagaland. This inconsistency between the UCC and Article 371 suggests that only one of the two laws can prevail.
The UCC contradicts the promises made by Sardar Patel
Furthermore, the UCC contradicts the promises made by Sardar Patel, the great Indian freedom fighter and first Union Home Minister, during the integration of 562 princely states into the Indian Union. Sardar Patel assured these states that the Constitution of India would safeguard their individual religious beliefs, customs, traditions, and social practices. Implementing the UCC would raise questions about breaking these iconic promises made by Sardar Patel.
If out of constitutional guarantees any of the individuals, groups, tribes or communities are exempted from the UCC as being proposed by some, any such attempt will again clash with the already confusing idea of the proposed UCC. Hence UCC is grossly unwanted on every logical front.
In conclusion, as members of the Indian Minority Intellectuals Forum, we strongly believe that the Constitution of India does not provide scope for the UCC. Implementing the UCC would only lead to chaos, which our progressive nation cannot afford. We humbly suggest allowing for community-specific reforms in the civil code, as the UCC lacks scope and legal validity.
Jai Hind! Thank you.
Indian Minority Intellectuals Forum
Journalist, Strategist & TV Debater