Why do so many people oppose a Uniform Civil Code (UCC)? The law must provide equal treatment to all. When we don't have separate laws for say north Indians and south Indians, why do we have separate laws for different religions?

Why do so many people oppose a Uniform Civil Code (UCC)? The law must provide equal treatment to all. When we don't have separate laws for say north Indians and south Indians, why do we have separate laws for different religions?

Why the Objection to a Uniform Civil Code?

Many of us didn’t support Modi as PM. That was due to concerns about his character and the BJP ideology in general. But there were many planks of his recent campaign that I’m sure resonated with us all regardless of whether or not they were realistic. We all want a financially stable India – one whose fiscal deficit is in check. Everyone desires a PM who doesn’t sit quietly on the sidelines, but gets involved in the issues important to us all. I’m sure no one likes corruption and we all find the idea of a streamlined bureaucracy very appealing.

I think that the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is one of these. That every right thinking person wants the same laws to apply to every Indian citizen. I mean – that’s just common sense right? Government and religion should have no overlap. We’re not Pakistan or Iran and we don’t want to be. We don’t have separate laws for people with long hair, or a different set of rules for those with brown and black eyes.

So why have separate civil laws for different religions? What if a person is an atheist like me? When more and more people are refusing to identify themselves with a particular religion, what is this stupid passion for having disparate legal codes? To me, this is crystal clear and I thought that every reasonable person feels this way too.

There was a time when I was okay with having different laws for various religions. My views have evolved since then and I realize that if we’re going to have laws in the first place, they must apply equally. I would have no objections if the government were to remove all laws relating to marriage, inheritance etc and simply leave it up to individuals. That would be ok. But to have a set of laws for one Religion 1 and another set of laws for Religion 2 is just terrible. It means the that the government and individual faith are not disconnected from each other. That is a bad thing.

And you know who suffers most from the lack of a Uniform Civil Code? Women. Big surprise.

But I’ve been reading a few opinion pieces and articles from prominent figures who feel otherwise. A senior diplomat called Gopalkrishna Gandhi for example, wrote an open letter to Modi calling the demand for a Uniform Civil Code “old and hackneyed” and puts it on the same footing as the Ram Mandir issue! I mean…the two demands are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. One seeks to lay down equality for all regardless of religion, and the other is a symbol of disharmony. It’s obvious that a government should never favor any particular religion, so the Ram Mandir issue is crazy. Modi himself seems to realize this in his manifesto when he says he wants the Ram Mandir issue to be resolved by Constitutional and legal means. Duh. Captain Obvious anyone? But I fail to see how the UCC is anything but a good idea.

Far from being sectarian, it promotes equality and fair treatment for all. While the Ram Mandir issue is divisive, the UCC promotes fairness. And you know who suffers most from the lack of a Uniform Civil Code? Women. Big surprise. They’re the most common victims of outdated laws allowing for unilateral divorce, mistreatment, and unfair inheritance regulations. This is because human rights have evolved whereas religion has not. Science has swept away many of the artificial barriers that relegated a woman to second class status, but religious beliefs still hold firm in their outmoded opinions. A Uniform Civil Code based on logic, consistency, and human rights will smooth over these irregularities and bring large swathes of Indian women into the modern world.

Some view the UCC as an attack on their cultural identity. But if a cultural identity means the right to deny equal treatment to people, then it’s better to lose your cultural identity. In other words: Human Rights > Cultural Identity How do you feel about a Uniform Civil Code? If you’re against it, what are the reasons? I’m strongly in favor of it and feel that a government with an absolute majority for the first time in 30 years has a golden opportunity to do the right thing. God knows when such a chance will come again.

Whatever our apprehensions regarding Modi, let’s make the best of the situation. There is a window of opportunity for our legal system to finally do away with unequal treatment on the basis of religion. We should all extend our support to it.

Comments

  1. Aturma says:

    Completely agree. Uniform Civil Code is necessary for any democratic country that holds all its citizens as equal. Civil laws based on religion and unequal treatment of men and women within this laws are in conflict with the constitution and hence should be done away with. And following 2 are my pet peeves on this matter-

    I was appalled and aghast when I read that according to the Hindu Minor & Guardianship Act, the Natural guardians of a Hindu minor is the father, and after him, the mother. It affected me a lot because I am a mother and I think of myself as an equal parent. (Infact, I was a stay at home mom for the first 2 years of my very very difficult child and I was much more a parent than my husband during those years.).

    And yes, the ‘Father/ Husbands name’ section on all forms should also be changed to ‘parents/ spouce’s name.

  2. Clueless says:

    Reservations in India are a slap in the face to the Indian constitution. They directly and openly discriminate based on religion and caste. Not only does this make the people more acutely aware of their caste or religion, it also gives the politicians an incentive to continue caste based politics. Infact, in Karnataka, more than 50% of seats in any educational institution are “reserved”. A more egalitarian solution would have been to actually deal with the issues of the horribly low standards of government schools, and to provide financial aid to students who qualify, but do not have the financial means to get an education.

    I also resent the various government subsidies given to people who wish to go on pilgrimages – that too to a qualifying subset of religions. As an athiest, what if my pilgrimage was to the CERN in Switzerland? Why should I be denied a subsidy just because I don’t believe in any of the Gods in their checklist? Why should there be any subsidy at all for what is essentially a personal choice that does not benefit the nation in any way, except for probably tourism (even then, it should be the job of tourism companies to offer good deals and discounts).

    Implementing UCC would send a definitive message that
    1. Religion is a CHOICE
    2. All citizens above 18 are ADULTS and responsible for their decisions

    I am not sure a lot of people are ready to hear this message.

    • bhagwad says:

      I agree. I would have added the removal of caste based reservations to my expectations, but I have no illusions about any politician making a move to get rid of them any time soon. Once something like reservations are in place, it would be political suicide to get rid of them.

      I’d like a sponsored trip to Switzerland too! :)

    • Clueless,

      I couldn’t agree with you more…We need to get rid of subsidies for religious pilgrimmages and bring in an UCC…But this UCC should not be based on any one religion – inputs should be considered from all relevant sides and then one code should be formulated…

    • Friend says:

      In karnataka there are 50% reservations, But in the State of Andhra Pradesh there is minimum 83.33% reservation.

  3. Abhishek says:

    How exactly is the Ram Mandir divisive? And even if it is divisive, so what? In any dispute, one side will win and and another side will lose. Allahabad HC verdict came in favor of building a Ram Mandir at the spot where the central dome of Babri Masjid stood. So, will you now say that Allahabad HC is communal and divisive and favoring Hinduism over Islam?

    Demanding a Ram Temple in Ayodhya is not divisive. It is NOT a demand that Muslims be made into second class citizens. It is NOT a demand for the Indian state to stop being secular. It’s a very specific dispute over a piece of land. I personally believe that the Babri Masjid is an illegal encroachment on land that had a Ram Mandir. You are free to disagree. We both approach the court and agree to respect the verdict. What is non secular about this?

    Suppose someone grabs a piece of land belonging to me and builds a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. I approach the court demanding that the memorial be removed and my land restored to me. Does that make me anti-Gandhi? Now, you may have a different version; you may think the land for the Gandhi memorial was legitimately acquired. You may similarly approach the court and give your version. But you cannot label me anti-Gandhi simply because I feel that the land for one particular Gandhi memorial was forcibly acquired.

    • bhagwad says:

      In 27th Jan 2013, the SC declared a status quo and the whole thing is pending in the courts. (http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/sc-reiterates-status-quo-on-ayodhyas-ram-janmabhoomibabri-masjid-site/1065792/) It’s divisive only because political outfits are not letting the courts resolve it quiety.

      The truth is that there’s no need to make it an election issue. The BJP can simply say “Whatever the courts say, we’ll accept”. That would be good enough for me, and good enough for most people. But as soon as people start making promises about the future of the site when the courts haven’t given a final verdict, then it by default becomes communal. Because they’re not neutral anymore. Let the courts have the final word and that’s it.

      As for my personal opinion, the masjid has been there is 1528. Ancient history. What happened hundreds of years ago is completely irrelevant to me and I don’t care either way. If we start going further back, then maybe no Indian should stay in this land. Or the native Americans should throw out all current Americans. You have to draw a line and say “Before this, whatever happened is over and done with”. I believe that line should be 1947. Before that the past is a blank slate for legal purposes.

      But like I said, let the courts handle it and that’s fine. But as soon as you make it a political agenda, you are no longer promising to blindly respect the court’s opinion. That makes it divisive and non-neutral.

      Show/Hide Replies
      • Abhishek says:

        Of course the SC has ordered that status quo be maintained. But you cannot deny that the Allahabad HC verdict came in favor of Ram Mandir. Does it mean that the High Court is communal?

        Secondly, if you honestly believe that the Ram Mandir was raised by the BJP as an issue in this election, I think you have been living on Mars. And even if it did, as a political party, the BJP has every right to make its view on the Ram Mandir known and try to educate people about its view.
        If you choose to see the dispute over the piece of land as a war between Hindus and Muslims, that is your problem, is it not? Should the BJP be held responsible for your imagination?

        ” You have to draw a line and say “Before this, whatever happened is over and done with”. I believe that line should be 1947. Before that the past is a blank slate for legal purposes.”

        Are you joking? You must be joking, right? Imagine some goondas enter my house and take it over on 14 Aug, 1947. I run to the police station to file a complaint. The next day the police tell me….sorry dude…its 15 Aug, 1947 now. Whatever happened before that is over. The past is a blank slate. Forget it! By your logic, we should have released all murderers and rapists from jail and withdrawn all pending criminal cases in court on 15 Aug, 1947. Please tell me you are joking.

      • bhagwad says:

        Nothing done by a court is communal. Right now the matter is in the SC, and that’s the end of that.

        Giving views is one thing. If the BJP only said, I think there should be a Ram mandir, that is one thing. But when BJP leaders (not Modi) say that they will build a Ram Temple, then that is communal. Why? Because there’s no way they can deliver on their promise. They’re essentially saying “I don’t care what the court says”.

        And about 1947, on I’m not joking. Hypothetical cases like a theft occurring on 15 Aug are all long gone now. For it to be relevant, a case would have to be 67 years old. What’s the use of talking about hypothetical examples? It’s not as if new cases have arisen or are going to arise!

        Regardless of your specific 1947 example, for sure 1528 is ancient history. By now, even the great great grandchildren of both victims as well as perpetrators are dead. So it has no legal standing and is completely irrelevant and fit only for textbooks and academic interest.

      • Abhishek says:

        ” If the BJP only said, I think there should be a Ram mandir, that is one thing. But when BJP leaders (not Modi) say that they will build a Ram Temple, then that is communal.”

        Now you are being unfair to the BJP on a simple matter of figures of speech. There are parties which used to say: “We will get Telangana”. Does it mean they were advocating civil war? All it means is that they will do their best to get Telangana.

        When the Nirbhaya rape case happened in Delhi, many people and parties said: “We will get justice for Nirbhaya”. Keep in mind that Nirbhaya’s rapists could only have been punished in a court of law and furthermore they would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Did you similarly accuse of those people and parties of saying: “We dont care what the court thinks”…And in case you are, why single out the BJP now?

        “And about 1947, on I’m not joking. Hypothetical cases like a theft occurring on 15 Aug are all long gone now. For it to be relevant, a case would have to be 67 years old. What’s the use of talking about hypothetical examples? It’s not as if new cases have arisen or are going to arise!”

        I am glad our courts do not share your kiddish interpretation of the law :) Our courts today freely and crucially reference laws and court decisions made before 1947 as basis for some of the most important judgements regarding rights to land and property. There are probably a million examples, but I am familiar with one landmark 2002 case relating to domicile policy and tribal rights in Jharkhand (my home state). Let me paste here a paragraph from the judgement of the Hon’ble High Court of Jharkhand (http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1261303/)

        “Survey was made under Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act for the Chhotanagpur area/region and under Regulation-III of 1872 for the Santhal Par-ganas. In the Santhal Parganas region of Jharkhand, the records of rights have been prepared on the basis of report prepared by J.F. Gantzer popularly known as Gantzer’s Report. The survey operation commenced in October, 1922 and concluded in February, 1935… ”

        Ancient history? What ancient history? LOL :)

      • bhagwad says:

        It is ancient history. There is something known as the statute of limitations followed by all common law countries including India. It sets a legal limit on the time that can pass before a case can be initiated concerning an event. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_limitations . I’m not sure what the exact limit in India is, but I think it’s somewhere around 15 years.

        So referencing a survey is one thing. After all, that is merely talking about uncovered facts. But suddenly talking about a legal case concerning an event happening hundreds of years ago? That is legal foolishness.

        Don’t get too hung up on the past when everyone of that era is dead. A point comes when you just have to let go.

      • Abhishek says:

        “So referencing a survey is one thing. After all, that is merely talking about uncovered facts. ”

        Your kiddish attempt to understand the law continues. The “survey” in question is the heart of the dispute. Its not a passing reference. You see the Jharkhand govt decided that only people whose forefathers were living in Jharkhand according to the survey of 1932 would be considered domiciled in state. But the fact is that in some parts of the state, the survey had gone on till 1935. And different parts had been surveyed years apart, which means new people could have moved in or moved out at various times.

        Read from the judgement:

        “The petitioner, Prashant Vidyarthy in his written argument has stated that the years of the last survey settlement is different for different districts, such as; for Dalbhum, it was between 1906 to 1911; for Seraikela between 1925 to 1928; for Hazaribagh between 1908 to 1915; and for Palamau between 1913 to 1920. After the aforesaid surveys, fresh survey settlement is also in operation, in many of the districts, such as Palamau, Ranchi, Santhal Parganas and Hazaribagh. The survey settlement report for Singhbhum district is of the year 1964. Therefore, according to the counsel for the petitioner, the last records of rights is that of the year 1964 for the district of Singhbhum ”

        See how the court moves seamlessly back and forth between things that happened before and after 1947?

        By the way, statute of limitations in such disputes in India is 12 years. You can be assured that both the Sunni Waqf Board and the suits filed in the name of Bhagwan Sri Ram Lalla Virajman have taken care of these deadlines. The precise legal dispute is not about whether a temple stood at the spot and was demolished, it is about Ram Lalla idols being at the spot and the mosque becoming defunct. So, its not really about what happened in 1528.

      • bhagwad says:

        To start off with, cut down on the abuse or this discussion is over and you’re banned. http://www.bhagwad.com/blog/2014/personal/3-rules-for-commenting.html/

        Second, at least we have established that you agree with the statute of limitations. That there is a time limit after which past crimes becomes irrelevant. Good.

        As per your previous statement “I personally believe that the Babri Masjid is an illegal encroachment on land that had a Ram Mandir”, I think we have safely established that any “illegal encroachment” that may or may not have happened is invalid because of the time that has elapsed since 1528. So the issue of illegal encroachment is legally untenable. Even legality aside, it’s pretty obvious that there has to be a time limit for such things. Common sense.

        As for the details of the specific property dispute – let the courts decide. Till then, the matter is sub judice and no political party should talk about it. It’s blatantly obvious that the BJP tries to pander to illogical religious feelings.

        I mean come on…there was no such person as Ram in the first place. It’s not possible for a human to do stuff that is claimed in the epic. These are all just fairy tales for children and a nice vehicle for moral stories. But the BJP takes advantage of people’s foolishness and it makes them illogical.

        The Ayodhya site is a dry piece of land that two crazy groups are fighting over. Let the courts decide who gets what and it’s the end of the story. But by “promising to construct a temple”, it’s very obvious what the motive is and who the BJP is pandering to.

      • Abhishek says:

        Personal comments removed. I’m leaving the rest up out of politeness. Last warning. This is more than is deserved.
        As far as the statute of limitations is concerned, all I did was tell you that both sides have made sure that these deadlines were met. In fact, I believe, in one instance, the Sunni Waqf Board filed its appeal just 2 days before the statute of limitations would run out. You think you are the only one who has noticed that there is a statute of limitations and the Hon’ble Allahabad HC and now the Hon’ble SC which is considering the case hasn’t taken notice :)

        So when I tell you the statute of limitations hasn’t run out in this case, I suggest you believe it. As I told you, the exact court case pertains to claims that the idol of Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajman was always present in the ground below the Masjid and that the Masjid had become defunct over the years. The argument goes that due to fundamental differences in the Hindu and Muslim faiths, a mosque is a mosque only as long as namaz is regularly carried out while the very presence of the idol of Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajmaan makes it a temple forever.

        Please read up on the case. It’s extremely interesting.

      • bhagwad says:

        I’ve removed your personal comments on your last post. Don’t do it again or your entire comment goes next time along with a ban.

        I never said that the plea was filed late etc. I said that we have to forget about historical wrongs. That what happened long ago doesn’t matter anymore. You seem to agree with me, so I don’t know what we’re arguing about.

        Also, it’s very obvious that India law is very stupid when it comes to religion. I mean come on…if I’m not mistaken, even god is treated as a legal entity :D . So merely pointing out that the court is investigating what a “true” mosque is and what a “true” temple is, is absurd.

      • Abhishek says:

        Here is what we are arguing about: You seem to think that we should throw away our claim to Ram Janmabhoomi simply because you are squeamish (and contemptuous) about Hindus and their religious beliefs. We have every right to argue our case in court AND we have every right to educate the public about why we are doing what we are doing and we have every right to seek legislative and constitutional remedies.

        By wanting us to shut up about Ram Mandir simply because the issue pisses off some Muslim fundamentalists, you are really trying to play moral police. I have read your blog for a while and I have often seen you advocate freedom even if it pisses other people off. Why not the same way with Ram Mandir… we have an extremely strong legal case in court (and we have already won in Allahabad HC)?

        Maybe it is easier to let the Ram Mandir go. So what? It may be easier for many women in this country to take a beating at home than go to the police station and make a fuss about domestic violence. So what?

      • bhagwad says:

        I’m contemptuous of all religious beliefs. No need to single out hinduism. I’m also contemptuous of stupid Indian laws that take into consideration supernatural events instead of solid legal principles. From a common sense point of view, how can property suddenly become disputed just because some objects were placed there? Doesn’t make sense!

        The Allahabad HC verdict was an excellent example of how even the high courts abandon pure legal reasoning in order to reach a “compromise”. As far as freedom of expression goes, nowhere have I said that it should be illegal for people to give their opinion of Ram Mandir so…

        And comparing a woman taking a beating to getting upset about some random historical even hundreds of years ago…come on!

      • Abhishek says:

        Yes, the Allahabad HC judgement was a “compromise”: only in the sense that the HC allowed 1/3rd of the land to be given for Masjid construction, although specifying that the land beneath the former central dome should go to Ram Mandir. If you read the judgement (please read the judgement) the whole thing builds up to why the entire land should go to Ram Mandir and then makes a compromise at the end merely not to hurt feelings of Muslims.

        “nowhere have I said that it should be illegal for people to give their opinion of Ram Mandir ”

        Nowhere have I accused you of doing so. I have accused you of having the same attitude to Ram Mandir as many people have towards domestic violence: just let it go. The people who feel the woman should “just let it go” usually do not say it should be ILLEGAL to report domestic violence… they merely think it should be brushed aside and forgotten….because brushing it aside leads to “less trouble” on the surface.

        Your argument is very similar. Forget the Ram Mandi. Why? Because you think it is a “symbol of disharmony” ? Simply because some fundamentalists may get angry and riot over it? I have not rioted. I did not incite any riot. I strongly believe people should be tolerant and accepting of others religions. You want people like me to just forget the Ram Mandir because other people may get angry and violent over it. Not my fault. I believe in peace and rule of law.

      • bhagwad says:

        The difference between domestic violence and this is that in domestic violence, someone is being harmed. Let me ask you – how are you personally being harmed over some piece of land that is not even yours and which you have nothing to do with? It’s not easy to “forget” about harm done to you (nor should you). But you can very easily forget about something that does not concern you.

        I’m not saying that people should forget about the ram mandir because it’s a symbol of disharmony (which it is of course). I’m saying people should forget about it because it is irrelevant and stupid. Let the two parties who claim the land duke it out in court. It has nothing to do with anyone else.

        I’m the last person to not do something to keep the peace. Peace is overrated. I enjoy pissing people off especially when it comes to fighting for my rights. Like how I supported the “Everybody Draw Mohammed” day. So I could care less if something pisses off muslims. In fact, if it pisses them off, that’s awesome. And if it pisses off hindutva types, it’s equally good.

        If you want to keep remembering it, by all means go ahead. You can hardly blame me for wanting people to be logical no?

      • Mayur says:

        Bhagwad, though I have disagreed with several of your opinions in the past, I’m completely with you here.

        People like this guy here seem to be living in an imaginary world where temples and mosques are more important than real issues of everyday life. And it is funny how he brings up the topic of domestic violence to back his statements about the Ayodhya issue. Specially since it has been known (even if it is all fiction) that Ram threw out a pregnant Sita. And he has the audacity to talk of domestic violence while talking of a Ram temple.

        The only difference between the hindutva-fanatics and the jihadis is that they both ‘claim’ to follow different religions. If you ask them to provide logic, neither will be able to speak anything just like you asked him how the Ayodhya issue affects his personal life. Or anyone else’s personal life for that matter except the two people who are fighting a land case in court.

      • bhagwad says:

        To me, it’s as if Reliance and Tata are fighting over who can build a factory in some place and they have cleverly convinced the people of India that they should give a damn. They create “Reliance fanatics” and “Tata fanatics” and people waste their time getting emotional about which corporate builds a stupid factory!

        I few the Ayodhya land dispute in the same way.

  4. Friend says:

    India requires not Only Uniform Civil Code but also gender neutral civil and criminal laws.Uniform Civil Code with out gender neutral civil and criminal laws is useless.

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