Article 44, UCC: AIMPLB calls it 'unconstitutional and anti-minority'

Article 44, UCC: AIMPLB calls it 'unconstitutional and anti-minority'

At present, the personal laws of various communities are governed by their religious scriptures.

On Tuesday, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board shared a press release under the head “Uniform Civil Code unacceptable to the Muslim community Muslims are bound to follow Sharia in their religious matters.” They have also said that the matter has been brought up to divert attention from real issues and asserted the “anti-constitutional move” is not acceptable by Muslims amid talk of implementing a Uniform Civil Code by some BJP-ruled states.

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In a statement, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, General Secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the Constitution has allowed every citizen of the country to live according to his religion.

Whereas, the Central Government Act, Article 44: Uniform civil code for the citizens of the Constitution Of India 1949 states that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

The talk of adoption of the Uniform Civil Code by the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh governments or the central government is just rhetoric and everyone knows that their purpose is to divert attention from issues such as rising inflation, and falling economy, and growing unemployment, Rahmani said.

He further added, “The Uniform Civil Code issue has been brought up to divert attention from real issues and promote an agenda of hatred and discrimination.”

“This anti-constitutional move is not acceptable to Muslims at all. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board strongly condemns this and urges the government to refrain from such actions,” Rahmani said.

His remarks came a day after Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur lauded the Uniform Civil Code as a good concept and said his government is open to implementing it.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has said a high-level committee will soon be set up to draft a Uniform Civil Code and communal amity in the state will not be allowed to be disrupted at any cost.

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What is Article 44: Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

Uniform Civil Code (IAST: Samāna Nāgrika Saṃhitā) is a proposal in India to formulate and implement one law for citizens which apply to all citizens equally regardless of their religion, sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

At present, the personal laws of various communities are governed by their religious scriptures.

The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

The issue has been at the center of political narrative and debate for over a century and is a priority agenda for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been pushing for the legislation in Parliament. The saffron party was the first to promise the implementation of UCC if it comes to power and the issue was part of its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto.

Why is Article 44 important?

The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable but for the moment it should remain voluntary, and thus the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a part of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. It was incorporated in the Constitution as an aspect that would be fulfilled when the nation would be ready to accept it and the social acceptance to the UCC could be made.

Ambedkar in his speech in the Constituent Assembly had said, “No one need be apprehensive that if the State has the power, the State will immediately proceed to execute…that power in a manner may be found to be objectionable by the Muslims or by the Christians or by any other community. I think it would be a mad government if it did so.”

What is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board?

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is a non-government organisation constituted in 1973 by that time Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi to adopt suitable strategies for the protection and continued applicability of Muslim Personal Law in India, most importantly, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937,[1] providing for the application of the Islamic Law Code of Shariat to Muslims in India in personal affairs.[2][3] The Act applies to all matters of personal law except such successions.[4] Even this section had the right under laws such as the Cutchi Memons Act, 1920 and the Mahomedan Inheritance Act (II of 1897) to opt for “Mahomedan Law”. Faizur Rahman claims that a majority of Muslim followed Muslim law, not the Hindu civil code.

Origin of Uniform Civil Code

The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.

An increase in legislation dealing with personal issues at the far end of British rule forced the government to form the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941. The task of the Hindu Law Committee was to examine the question of the necessity of common Hindu laws. The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women. The 1937 Act was reviewed and the committee recommended a civil code of marriage and succession for Hindus.

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