The Law Commission's decision to invite views on the contentious Uniform Civil Code drew criticism from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim organisations which said they will boycott it and accused the Modi government of waging a "war" against the community.

As the Muslim outfits claimed a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will "kill" India's pluralism, right wing organisations like BJP and Shiv Sena, long-time votaries of a common code, strongly supported the government's decision, insisting it would bolster gender equality and end discrimination against women.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board's Stand:
AIMPLB general secretary Wali Rehmani, Jamiat-Ulema -e-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madani and representatives of other bodies said all the Muslim sects and its women were "one" on these issues.

They said the outfits will launch a campaign to create awareness among Muslims from today, beginning with a gathering in Lucknow. The Board members, however, admitted that there were "flaws" in the personal laws governing Muslims and they were addressed from time-to-time. They said the country is facing problems on various fronts including the LoC and issues like killings elsewhere.
"This is all destructive. The government should try to fix this and ensure peace than seeking views on issues like UCC," Madani said. Contrary to the Commission's claim that the step is an "endeavour" to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices, Rehmani said when implemented the UCC will bring to an end country's pluralism and paint all in "one colour" and finish diversity.

"Also, we don't want the practice of triple talaq to be abolished. There are more divorces in other communities. Rather the highest rate, which is double that of Muslims, is among Hindus," he claimed.

Law Panel Head Surprised As AIMPLB Boycotts UCC Questionnaire

Law Commission Chairman B S Chauhan sounded surprised over the decision of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to boycott the questionnaire of the panel on Uniform Civil Code (UCC), but refused to comment on the controversy.

"I have no comments to offer. The only thing I would like to state is that we have only floated the documents for public comments. No report has been finalised," he said to a poser on the AIMPLB questioning the decision of the law panel to seek public comments on UCC and the issue of 'triple talaq'.

Talking to reporters, the former Supreme Court judge said seeking public comments on issues of importance is a practice successive Commissions have followed. The AIMPLB and various other outfits today opposed the Law Commission's questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code and announced their boycott of the move, accusing the government of waging a "war" against the community.

In an appeal issued on October 7, the Commission had said the objective of the endeavour was to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise various cultural practices. In the appeal, it has assured the people that the "norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms".

Justice Chauhan had said in the appeal that the family law reform has to view women's rights as an end in itself rather than a matter of constitutional provision, religious right and political debate.

Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on Uniform Civil Code, the government had in June asked the Law Commission to examine the issue. Implementation of a common code is part of the BJP's election manifesto. The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of 'triple talaq', which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives. On October 7, the Centre in an affidavit in the Supreme Court had opposed the practice of triple talaq.

Government's View:

Union Minister Arun Jaitley asserted that religion cannot dictate upon the rights of an individual and attacked Congress over its stand on the Uniform Civil Code, saying it was the Constituent Assembly controlled by the party that had envisaged a common civil law for all Indians.

"The Constitution today guarantees each individual right to equality, right to live with dignity. Therefore as far as personal laws are concerned I am one of those who believe that set of rights that personal law has... will have to be regulated by the Constitution." Personal law cannot practise, propagate discrimination; cannot allow a compromise with human dignity. Personal law and practises can certainly deal with religion, can dictate upon rituals. The religion cannot dictate upon rights of individuals," the Finance Minister said.

The government's affidavit on triple talaq is a secular approach, an approach that cuts upon religion, he said. He rejected the criticism of the government by various Muslim bodies, saying personal laws have been amended by the various governments and cited the amendment brought in by the first NDA government in divorce laws governing Christians. The Church fully supported it, he said.

The Manmohan Singh government had also brought changes in Hindu Succession Act to bring the woman at par with the man in inheritance, Jaitley told reporters. Taking a dig at Congress, he said he was "amazed" at its stand as he recalled that the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, who belonged to the party, had envisaged an Uniform Civil Code.

Congress' Stand:

In the face of strong opposition to Uniform Civil Code by Muslim outfits, Congress said its implementation would be impossible while BJP asserted that the move is aimed at moving towards a progressive society.

AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi's View
Observing that Uniform Civil Code is "not good" for country, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said his party would respond to Law Commission's questionnaire on the issue unlike All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

"I respect the decision taken by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. But, our political party has taken a decision three days ago that we as a political party would reply to that questionnaire," he said. He contended that the questionnaire is loaded in favour of UCC. "But, we will definitely reply to that questionnaire," he said. He said, "I have been consistently saying that uniform civil code is not good for the diversity and pluralism of this great nation of ours and diversity and pluralism are the ethos of this country. It is not going to help our country by having uniform civil code.