For those of you who are wondering what a civil code is, here is the link. A code of conduct is essential to live harmoniously within a pluralistic group and there is no better example of such a multi-cultural, multi-lingual group as India. People of various faiths reside in our secular, democratic republic. We owe the code of civil procedure and the code of criminal procedure to the British who for reasons unknown have done something better for this nation in the form of these codes. Else, we would have Qazis and Caste Panchayats issuing diktats instead of the legal system that we possess today.
However, there were some areas of life which were too difficult to be separated from the social realm of religion. These are areas like marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. Thus, these areas are still governed by various statutes which are applicable selectively on particular religions. For example, we have a Hindu Marriage Act 1955 which forbids an individual from having a second wife while the first wife is still alive who has not been divorced yet. In the same country, we have laws that do not make any such restrictions for followers of certain other religions.
We Indians have believed in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which states that the world is one single family. It is but natural that we evolve certain minimum common standards of life if we are on the right path of civilization. This calls for a uniform civil code, an issue that is the bread and butter of many political parties of India. It is more or less certain that once an issue gets politicized, a solution to the problem will hardly see the light of the day. Article 44 of the constitution of India which is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy asks the State to endeavor to provide a uniform civil code for its citizens. The fact that the makers of the Constitution added such a provision in the Directive principles and not in the fundamental rights itself is a testimony to the complexity of the issue.
I had the privilege of hearing/listening to some high profile speakers of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who provided very true facts about the need for a uniform civil code. These are facts that no one can deny. But the path taken by the organization in demanding a uniform civil code poses a threat to the secular fabric of this nation. Any demand for a uniform civil code should come from within the so called ‘oppressed’ parties of those religions. It is the women of a particular faith who should come to fore if they feel that an instant divorce in the form of triple ‘talaaq‘ is inhuman and against their rights. It is not for the RSS to point to such oppression. More vocal the demand from RSS, more resistant will be the followers of other faith because the issue being debated takes a back seat when it comes to upheld the self-respect of the followers of a particular faith.
The tone in which we put a demand for the uniform civil code should be such that it does not hurt the sentiments of the followers of a certain faith. It will take wide ranging discussions and debate among the citizens of this country for implementing a uniform civil code and less of politics.