Issues

An Anatomy of the UCC

S.M.Pasha

Uniform Civil Code is an extremely dangerous Damocle’s sword, which is hanging over the necks of the Muslim minority community since the day an Article was passed in the Constituent Assembly on 23 November 1948. Quaide Millat Janab Mohammed Ismail Saheb [may his noble soul rest in eternal peace in Paradise] moved an amendment to the Article 35 so as to add a proviso to permit any group, section or community of people to decide against giving up its own personal laws in case it had one. The great defender of the rights of Indian Muslims reminded the House that “the right of a group or a community to follow its own personal law was among the Fundamental Rights and tinkering with that right amounted to interference with the way of life of those people who had been observing the rights for generations and ages.” This amendment was seconded by Janab Naziruddin Ahmed Saheb of West Bengal, who said that it was not Muslims alone who possessed personal laws and that each community had certain religious laws and certain civil laws which are inseparable from religious beliefs and practices. The communities which had their personal laws would be affected, he said.

The amendment was endorsed by Janab Mahboob Ali Baig Saheb of Bezwada, who asserted that as far as Muslims were concerned, their laws of succession, inheritance, marriage and divorce were completely dependent on their religion.

Shri Ananthasynam Iyengar of Chittoor [ who later on became the Speaker of the Lok Sabha] interrupted him saying that marriages in Islam were mere civil contracts and religious affairs. To this, Baig Saheb gave a fitting reply that a Muslim marriage, without any doubt was a “civil contract”, but it must be noted that such a “civil contract” is enjoined on Muslims by the Qur’an and if it was not followed, such a marriage is not classified at all as a valid marriage in Islam.

The Amendment was further seconded by Janab B. Pocker Saheb of Kerala who referred to some of the important questions raised by some Hindu members pertaining to that Article and opposed it tooth and nail. Janab Hussain Imam Saheb of Bihar eloquently supported the amendment moved by the leader of the Indian Union Muslim League. But so determined were the Congress Party members to see that the Article was passed that they did not even allow the Muslim League members to explain the reasons why they were opposing the proposal.

Muslim Congressmen, including Maulana Azad, kept silent during the debate fearing that if they opened their mouth they would be sacked and disgraced. Alas! the House was gutted by its own house lamp.

Baba Saheb Ambedkar gave a solemn assurance that the government would see to it that the rights of the minorities were not to be trampled upon. They took his assurance to be gospel truth and, having no other alternative except to formally vote against it when it was put to vote, they voted against it. Those who were in favour of the Article won because they were in the majority in the House.

This Article , which was in deep slumber like Rip Van Winkle in the fairy tale, has been awakened by the BJP government of India. It has thus sowed the seeds of distrust and dissatisfaction against it in the minds of the members of the minority communities.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2016 on page no. 2

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