Cen­tre re­opens civil code file, trig­gers fiery de­bate

Congress ques­tions govt’s mo­tives as move comes ahead of 2017 UP polls

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

NEW DELHI: The gov­ern­ment’s move to seek a re­port from the law panel on im­ple­ment­ing a uni­form civil code has trig­gered a po­lit­i­cal de­bate with the prin­ci­pal op­po­si­tion Congress link­ing it to assem­bly elec­tions early next year. The de­bate is also likely to res­onate in the Par­lia­ment ses­sion be­gin­ning July 18.

The law min­istry has asked the Law Com­mis­sion of In­dia to ex­am­ine and pre­pare a re­port on the con­tentious is­sue of en­act­ing a uni­form civil code, op­posed by sec­tions of mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties.

In­dia has sep­a­rate sets of per­sonal laws for each re­li­gion gov­ern­ing mar­riage, di­vorce, suc­ces­sion, adop­tion and main­te­nance. While Hindu law over­haul be­gan in the 1950s and con­tin­ues, ac­tivists have long ar­gued that Mus­lim per­sonal law, which has re­mained mostly un­changed, is tilted against women.

To end the con­fu­sion over per­sonal laws, the court has been ad­vo­cat­ing a uni­form civil code.

Sources said com­mis­sion chair­man jus­tice (retd) Bal­bir Singh Chauhan has called a meet­ing of the full panel next week to de­lib­er­ate on the mat­ter.

The panel is also likely to seek the views of the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Mi­nori­ties on sug­gest­ing changes to the dif­fer­ent per­sonal laws re­lat­ing to mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties.

Sources said the com­mis­sion could ap­point sep­a­rate teams to ex­am­ine changes in law per­tain­ing to mar­i­tal law, prop­erty and suc­ces­sion and di­vorce laws.

How­ever, de­lib­er­a­tions with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers could take sev­eral months and even a few years, they said.

The move, com­ing barely months be­fore the Ut­tar Pradesh elec­tions and at a time when the triple ta­laq de­bate is on, led to the Congress ques­tion­ing the gov­ern­ment’s mo­tive. CON­STI­TU­TIONAL TANGLE

Ar­ti­cle 44 says the state shall work to­wards se­cur­ing a uni­form civil code across the coun­try re­plac­ing per­sonal laws of var­i­ous re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties

The pro­vi­sion is a part of the Di­rec­tive Prin­ci­ples of State Pol­icy that are not en­force­able by any court

But ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 37, the gov­ern­ment is duty-bound to ap­ply th­ese prin­ci­ples in mak­ing laws.

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