As the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code Bill (UCC) continues to spark sharp criticism from all corners, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) issued a statement unequivocally rejecting the legislation.
The press statement dismissed the bill as “mere eyewash and nothing more than political propaganda.”
“It is a sad fact that in the name of the Uniform Civil Code, a legislative assembly is trying to deceive the voters of the country that it has really done a great job, although it has not. This proposed law will only lead to multiplicity of actions and mere confusion,” S.Q.R. Ilyas, the spokesperson of the Board said.
He argued that the legislation passed hurriedly, deals only with three aspects – firstly, the sphere of marriage & divorce in a cursory manner, thereafter deals with succession albeit in-extenso and lastly as well as strangely conceives a new legal regime for live-in relationships which undoubtedly will impinge on moral values of all the religions.
He highlighted that these issues such as marriage, divorce, succession etc. belong to the concurrent list of the Constitution.
According to Article 245 of the constitution, the Parliament has the law-making power on these matters, and the states are subject to this exclusive power, he added.
It was further pointed out that the bill tries to create an overriding effect while it is still unclear how a State legislation can repeal a Central legislation, without even naming it.
The statement contended that the equalisation of inheritance rights between genders, as defined in the bill, conflicts with the principles of Islamic law, which mandates equitable distribution based on financial responsibilities within the family, with women having distinct shares in line with their roles and obligations.
The ban on second marriage in the proposed law was deemed by the board as a publicity gimmick. Moreover, the data provided by the government itself shows that its ratio is also falling rapidly.
“Second marriage is not done for fun but because of social necessity,” the statement added.
According to the board, the Muslim Personal Laws (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 states that any proceedings relating to marriage, divorce or succession of Muslims shall be governed by the same.
Section 3 of the said Act provides a separate mechanism for the proceedings as well.
“Therefore, all that this law is doing is giving rise to multiple proceedings which will further choke the dockets of our overburdened courts,” the board stated.
The board also questioned “Where is the uniformity?” if the scheduled tribes are exempted from the new law.
“The Scheduled Tribes have been exempted from the proposed Act, then how can it be declared a Uniform Civil Code when the state has a significant population of tribals and many exemptions have been given to the majority section, which makes it a candidate? It happens that the real target of the law is only Muslims,” the board claimed.
It was also emphasised that last year, in July, the country’s minorities, Dalits and Adivasis had unanimously rejected the UCC in a joint press conference.
“The legal issues with the Code will definitely be dealt with by the courts in due time as some of the provisions appear to be excessive and unconstitutional, it is sad that a law and a legislative assembly are being used to fool the electorate into thinking that some sort of Uniform Civil Code is enacted when in truth it is far from it,” the statement said.