New Delhi: Country’s leading thinkers, scholars, academicians, legal luminaries and representatives of various ways of worship including Islam and Christianity unanimously urged the Government of India to ensure equal laws for all citizens. Joining the discussion at a seminar organised by Bharatiya Matdata Sangathan on the topic “Indian Civil Code: A Common Civil Law for all Indians” on November 23, the speakers and participants were unanimous to celebrate November 23 as 'Equal Rights Day' every year. In a resolution, they demanded that the marriageable age of all the boys and girls in the country should be equal. They urged the Central Government to direct the Law Commission of India to study the common civil codes of all the developed nations as well as that of one implemented in Goa, and come out with a draft which is acceptable to all and address the problems in a comprehensive manner.
Former judge of Supreme Court of India Shri PC Pant reminded the countrymen that common civil code prevails in Goa for decades and there is no problem to anybody there with any of the provision of the law. He stressed the need to change as per the changing needs and times and educate the masses for the common civil code. He said the voice of change should come from within the society.
Veteran RSS Pracharak and Patron of Muslim Rashtriya Manch Shri Indresh Kumar said a new Bharat is emerging and this new Bharat has the capability to lead the entire world. Therefore, it is time we unite and strengthen ourselves. He said he has interacted with over 25 lakh Muslims, over eight lakh Christians and lakhs of Buddhists during the last few decades and the majority of the country is in favour of equal laws for all the countrymen.
Working president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Shri Alok Kumar said since the issue of Common Civil Code was raised by the Jana Sangh and the BJP, a perception has developed in the country that it is a Hindu agenda, which is wrong. He said the Common Civil Code is in the interests of all the Indian citizens. Hence, the type of unanimity as developed for triple talaq should develop on UCC also. He said it would be better if the demand for UCC comes from within the Muslim community. Shri Alok Kumar also advocated rethinking over Article 29 and 30 so that all people, not the minorities alone, irrespective of their communities and ways of worship are permitted to open the educational institutions.
Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister K.J. Alphons said we are first Indians than the Muslim, Christian or Hindu. He said the faster the Common Civil Code is implemented in the country is better for the whole nation. He stressed the need to draw lesson from Goa where the UCC is followed for decades without any difficulty. He urged the government to bring it before December 31, 2019.
Additional Solicitor General of India Shri Aman Lekhi said common civil code is in the interest of all the Indian citizens. Noted educationist and astrologer Shri Pawan Sinha said common civil code is necessary for the development of the country. He said the pace of development is slow when people start focusing more on religious identity.
Leader of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and noted human rights activist, Zakia Soman, said the Muslim women want gender justice and gender equality. “We want polygamy should be banned, mothers too have the right of children’s custody, ‘halala’ should be declared an offence, there should be well-laid laws for marriage, every marriage should be registered and women should have equal rights in the parent’s property. Whenever this matter comes up, some Muslim leaders unnecessarily start making hue and cry. Whereas UCC is in favour of Muslim women,” she said.
The speakers urged the Government to direct the Law Commission to study the common civil codes of all developed nations and that of implemented in Goa, and come out with a draft acceptable to all
Justice (retd) Shri I.A. Ansari said when the Hindu Code Bill was passed, it was strongly opposed by the Hindus. But later all people understood its importance. Hence, instead of looking at the opposition, the government should proceed for the UCC. Islamic scholar Feroz Bakht Ahmed stressed on educating people on the issue of UCC. Noted educationist and businessman Shri Zafar Sareshwala said unanimity on this issue is needed more among the leaders and not the public.
Former judge of Allahabad High Court Shri ZU Khan stressed the need to connect all citizens in a single thread. He said the country’s law should be as per the changing needs and times. He said problems would surely block the way, but those who want change should be encouraged. Noted human rights activist Dr Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed said the country first need brotherhood; then the talks of unity should begin.
Noted Bollywood actor Gajendra Chauhan said if nature does not discriminate between men and women then why should there be discrimination before law. He said the day we all have the feeling that it is our own country, the difference between Hindus and Muslims will vanish. Former Union Minister Shri Sanjay Paswan stressed the need to celebrate diversity.
In the beginning, president of Bharatiya Matdata Sangathan Dr Rikhab Chand Jain said uniform civil code would protect the interest of the women and children particularly. The law is required to be implemented to eradicate many wrong practices in family life and resolve issues relating to inheritance and distribution of property amongst successors. The maximum benefits of such a change in law will be to girls, children and women from Muslim society. Even Christians will have easier processing of divorce cases as reduction of separation period would help resolve family disputes earlier than otherwise. It may also help Muslim couples to seek adoption which is impossible presently. It would stop polygamy, Dr Jain added.
In the end, working president of Bharatiya Matdata Sangathan advocate Ashwani Upadhyaya read out a resolution, which was unanimously passed. He said over 100 amendments have been made in the Constitution till now, but nobody ever tried to ensure uniform civil code. “Rather the judgements of Supreme Court were changed five times. Bharat will not be truly secular until we ensure equal rights to all women irrespective of their way of worship or community,” he said.