Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights into Editorial: Muslim groups reject law panel move on uniform civil code



Insights into Editorial: Muslim groups reject law panel move on uniform civil code



The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), along with several other organisations associated with the Muslim community, has opposed the Law Commission’s questionnaire on the possibility of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). They have decided to boycott the entire exercise.

  • AIMPLB has also observed that the Centre’s recent affidavit in the Supreme Court rejecting the validity of the triple talaq was an underhand means to impose a UCC in India.


Why is UCC being opposed by AIMPLB?

According to the Muslim board, “The uniform code is not suited for this nation. There are so many cultures in India and they have to be respected. A uniform code is against the spirit of the Constitution, which safeguards the right of citizens to practise their culture and religion.” Also, UCC, when implemented, will bring to an end country’s pluralism and paint all in “one colour”.



The development comes days after the Union government told the Supreme Court that ‘triple talaq’, ‘nikaah halala’ and polygamy were not integral to the practice of Islam or essential religious practices. Subsequently, the Law Commission had put up on its website a questionnaire, comprising 16 questions, to seek public opinion on the civil code issue.


What is triple talaq?

‘Triple Talaq’ is a procedure of divorce under the Sharia Law which is a body of the Islamic law. Under this, a husband can divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘Talaq’ thrice.


Why triple talaq should be abolished?

  • In spite of protests by Muslim women and activists world-wide the procedure is still prevalent in most countries.
  • There are several instances where ‘triple talaq’ has enabled husbands to divorce their wives arbitrarily, devoid of any substantiation.
  • According to a study, 92% of Muslim women in India want oral triple talaq to go.
  • Oral talaq or ‘triple talaq’ delivered through new media platforms like Skype, text messages, email and WhatsApp have become an increasing cause of worry for the community.
  • The ‘triple talaq’ has been abolished in 21 countries including Pakistan, but is still prevalent in India.
  • The Centre reasons that these practices are against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc.
  • The government also argues that when these practices are banned in Islamic theocratic countries, the practices could have absolutely no base in religion and are only prevalent to permit the dominance of men over women.


What is uniform civil code?

Uniform civil Code is a proposal to have a generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion.


What the constitution says?

Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.


Why have a UCC?

  • A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
  • Another reason why a uniform civil code is needed is gender justice. The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
  • Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
  • Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.


But, why it is difficult to have a UCC?

India being a secular country guarantees its minorities the right to follow their own religion, culture and customs under Article 29 and 30. But implementing a Uniform Code will hamper India’s secularism.


Way ahead:

The government cannot remain silent on the issue anymore. It is obvious that the government would have to face several challenges from many conservative groups on this front. But, it will have to work hard to build trust, and more importantly, make common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives, as has been the wont of previous governments.

  • One strategic option is to follow the path taken after the fiery debates over the reform of Hindu civil law in the 1950s. Rather than an omnibus approach, the government could also bring separate aspects such as marriage, adoption, succession and maintenance into a uniform civil code in stages.
  • A comprehensive review of several other laws in the context of gender justice would also do well.



What is unfortunate is the demand for UCC has always been framed in the context of communal politics. Many see it as majoritarianism under the garb of social reform. It needs to be understood that changes are gradually and slowly accepted by the society and are significant for every individual irrespective of community, gender and caste. Rational debates should be there without polarizing a country like India whose secular fabric and national integrity cannot be put at stake. Reforms are needed in all personal laws whether it is Hindu, Muslim or Christian but it is required that these demands come from the people themselves. Forcing a particular set of rules on people will not serve the real purpose of uniform civil code.