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Catholic Sabha Mangalore Pradesh calls for discussion on UCC

Catholic Sabha Mangalore Pradesh calls for discussion on UCC
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Mangaluru: The Catholic Sabha Mangalore Pradesh, said on Wednesday that the Union government should circulate its draft law of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)  for discussion among citizens and invite suggestions on the same. The Catholic Sabha Mangalore Pradesh released a press note on the subject.

India has been described as an “Ethnological museum” owing to its diverse culture. This diverse culture is due to more than 10 religions living side by side of each other, 3,000 castes, 25,000 sub-castes, around 1,109 scheduled castes and 744 scheduled Tribes in India. All these religions, castes, sub-castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have their own distinct culture, customs, traditions language, form of marriage, inheritance, food habits, dress habits, way of life etc which have been followed since time immemorial. These distinct culture, traditions, religious beliefs etc has been protected by the Constitution of India through its fundamental rights. Even while framing the constitution of India, Unity in diversity was the motto.

The customs and traditions in various communities in India were codified into personal laws in India in regards to marriage, divorce, inheritance adoption etc. Even though most of the laws in India are uniformly applicable to all citizens in India irrespective of religion, caste, class, race etc only the personal law’s which form part of their respective customs and traditions have been distinct in respect to marriage, divorce, inheritance adoption etc. These personal laws were enacted for preservation of customs and practices of various communities as most of these customs and practices are totally different and distinct from one religion to the other. For example the practice of marriage amongst Hindus is totally different to practice of marriage amongst Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis etc. Hence personal laws to preserve these unique practices are very much required and removal of these personal law’s are detrimental to the customs and practices of particular communities which have been following these customs from time immemorial and which customs have already attained the force of law.

The central government’s recent pointer towards a uniform civil code has created confusion amongst different communities. The law commission of India circulating a questionnaire and asking the view’s of different communities on the said questionnaire has given an impression as though the government wants to somehow bulldoze a so called uniform civil code on all communities. When cultural practices and religious practices are so diverse and distinct, the personal law’s are required to protect those practices. Trying to bring uniformity, where uniformity is not possible is striking a death knell and giving a go by to all the customs and traditions. The government’s slogan of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” promotes diversity and not uniformity.

Many supporters who have been batting for the promulgation of the uniform civil code argue that the personal law’s are riddled with biases and discrimination of different kinds and especially on women and to ameliorate their conditions uniform civil code is a must. Any discrimination or error in any law could be rectified by bringing about an amendment which could resolve any bias or discrimination and removal of personal law’s is not a solution. For example there have been 105 amendments to the Indian Constitution and certain additions and deletions have been made. This means that changes can be made to the existing law’s and promulgation of new laws are unnecessary.

The government if it’s serious on the uniform civil code should first bring out a draft law and should circulate it amongst its citizens and then call for suggestions. By circulating a questionnaire, how the government is intending to bring about uniformity is not shown. With a draft bill the general public could give suggestions or are in a clear position either to assent to the bill if it protects their customs or oppose the bill if it’s against to their interests. Even during the constitutional debates it was discussed that when bringing out the uniform civil code the assent of the respective communities whose personal laws would be taken away was required.

The central government instead of creating confusion amongst minorities and other communities should first bring out a draft law or should not hastily go ahead with the uniform civil code. Hence the government shouldn’t go ahead with the promulgation of the uniform civil code or on the alternative the government could prepare a draft and circulate it amongst all and then could invite public opinion which could really sub serve democracy.

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