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Now in the threatening social scenario an old tune of the Common Civil Code is being played from the different quarters with largo speed.  The need or no need for common civil code is another issue. 

By M. A. Khalid

Close on the heels of the Lok Sabha election BJP and Narendra Modi have raised the slogan of “Sub ka Visas Sab ka Sath” meaning development of all with the cooperation of all.  Endorsing this concept the roadmap of the progress and development was drawn and the welfare and amelioration of the people was focused but interestingly the hidden agenda also was allowed to creep into the so called account.

The way Modi conceptualized the development plan kindled the hopes of the people that Modi would go ahead with the no-nonsense approach to achieve the welfare of the people and Modi’s flamboyance of rapid growth, benefitting all irrespective of any consideration, carried the day.  The expectations were raised that the multiple problems would be solved with a magic wand.

Behind the electoral success of Modi there lurked the escalating scams of the Congress period and uncontrolled sharp spurt in the prices.  However, with the lapse of one year, the entire artificially created scenario of desiring the progress of the common man got fizzled out, spreading all round disillusionment.  The prices touched  unimaginable height and the common man was hit hard to the extent that the  pulses got costlier than chicken and the economic scenario went on growing dismayingly bleak, afflicting all and sundry.  The atrocious economic circumstances have come to such a pass that even the common man can’t afford the dal or pulses in their staple of diet.

No less significant to note that Modi’s grandiose promise of bringing the black money back home also failed to see the light of the day.  The much-hyped crusade of bringing back black money proved to be mirage, fuelling the massive surge of unrest and disillusionment.  The triumphalism of Modi Rule mirrored nothing but failure except on one front i.e. a communal front with the deepening of the caste and religious divides.

Modi Govt. has shown its potential of stoking the communal fire.  The general atmosphere in the country is so charged that the marauding mobs lead credence to the rumours and are out to kill.  Every other day, Muslims are targeted on one pretext or the other. The saffron forces, with the criminal silence of the government, are engaged in polarizing the polity flexing their muscles on the helpless minority.   No effort is spared to launch slipshod by deadly attacks with feral ferocity on the community with the fanning of deep seated animosity against the poor and helpless Muslims with the false and fictitious excuses.  The brutal lynching of Mohammad Akhlaque is a case in point.

The saffron hot heads keep inflaming the communal passions with their unbridled incendiary statements to make the saffron political culture encash the political benefits. With the surprising silence of the authorities the situation has taken such an ominous turn that the immediate concern of the intellectuals, writers, poets, film makers is aroused.  The climate of growing intolerance has led to the vociferous protests by the intellectuals, writers, poets, and even film personalities threatening to return their awards. The mature debate quite crucial for the survival of democracy is being stifled.  The govt. of the day fails to understand the anguish of the people who are sensing the environment of growing insecurity in the country.

Now in the threatening social scenario an old tune of the Common Civil Code is being played from the different quarters with largo speed.  The need or no need for common civil code is another issue.  But the pronouncements from the saffron hot heads for the need of Common Civil Code quite supported from other quarter’s used with a sinister purpose of bulldozing civil liberties.  The button of Common Civil Code is pressed to divert the attention form the all round failure of the govt. further triggering the unease in the Muslim community.  The demand of the Common Civil Code is not detached from the communal vested interest.

Ours is a pluralist society where different common laws prevail borrowed from different religious scriptures and sources.  The exponents of Uniform Civil Code would like personal laws to be annulled and the matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, maintenance etc. to be governed by the Common Civil Code.

The demand of Common Civil Code at this juncture is not with a good intention but calculated to damage the psyche of the community and hurt its sentiments.  The re-awakening of the debate to scrap the Muslim personal law is to play again and again the  communal card.  Those talking of improving the plight of Muslim women never showed their concern when Muslim women are targeted in the communal violence.  Those playing manipulative politics have no business to talk of improving the plight of Muslim women.

No less significant in this context is to note that Dalits are not treated on par with Hindus.  The Dalit widow is entitled to solemnize the second marriage.  Similarly the Parisis, Jains, Sikhs are not included in Hindus.  Any community in our country is legally qualified to solve its internal problems like marriage, divorce, inheritance in the light of its own personal law.

Pertaining to Muslim marriage it’s the sacred contract by virtue of which the growth of family takes shape.  The Hindus firm up the marriage institution deciding the birth after birth relations or for perpetuity or continuity.

The Hindu culture provides for kanyadan or the grant of daughter as the dan or gift.

In a plural polity like us there is a considerable space for the coexistence of different cultures and various faiths.  The golden rule of conduct is to allow the harmonious coexistence of diversity of faiths consistent with no harm to the larger interests of society.

Our noble and sacred constitution has enshrined the freedom to progress and practice one’s faith and religion.  The constitution has thus upheld the freedom of faith with the respect to the religious diversity.

The million dollar question is as to what prevents the expansion of progress in the country if different personal laws are practiced. The practice of one’s own personal law constitutes no impediment in the progress and development of the country.  The plurality of polity and the unity in diversity constitutes the essence of beauty of our vast and beloved country.  Our plural polity has earned a lot of respect in the world.  Any attempt to disturb the diversity of faith in the name of Uniform Civil Code from different forums and quarters looks to be by some tutored voices to please the intolerant communal forces and establishment.

Further, there is the special marriage Act of 1954 which allows the person to marry not attached to any faith.  One is free to live as per his or own choice with no faith or otherwise.  Our constitution does not want anyone to thrust or impose his or her views on others.  Our sacred constitution defines no interference in the matters of faith.  The need of Common Civil Code is not understood in the wake of Special Marriage Act.

A child born in India is registered in Panchayat, Municipality or Corporation as per the existing laws of the land.  The admission is decided in the light of the existing laws of the land.  Equally curriculum is quite relevant in imparting education.  The criminal laws and the Criminal Procedure Code lays the course to deal with the crimes and defines the punishment.  Hence where is the necessity of Common Civil Code when there are enough  laws in the country to provide for the safety and security of their freedoms within the matrix of their own personal laws?

During the British period the Lax Loci Report 1840 was tabled to gather and unify the different laws and give them the legal shape including the criminal laws and the law of evidence.  Even in that context the Hindu personal law and the Muslim personal law were exempted from the ambit of the uniformity of the laws.  In the British period, the differences and disputes in the different sects and communities were resolved taking recourse to their personal laws.  India’s a vast country blessed with the diversity of faiths and cultures. We should celebrate this diversity instead of trying to straitjacket it in a monochromatic mode.

The variations in the traditions, cultures and faiths need to be protected and respected as far as they do not harm the peace, harmony and integrity of the country.  No dislike was shown to the Christian or Parsi law in the British period.  It was in 1937  the Shariah law was enacted to govern marriage, divorce and other internal matters.  With the Queen’s Proclamation subsequent to the 1857 mutiny, the need of various personal laws was acknowledged and it was ensured that no interference whatsoever would be done in the realm of personal laws.  The alternate view point sounds to be silly, a communal subterfuge, using it as a stick to beat the minorities and keep them always on the back foot.