The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will affect diverse minorities and marginalized communities in India and gender justice can be achieved within the existing personal laws, and imposing a uniform code may inadvertently harm women’s rights, said the National Federation of Girls Islamic Organisation (NFGIO).
The NFGIO, which is associated with Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, on 14 July, has submitted a response letter to the Law Commission of India, regarding the public notice issued by the 22nd Law Commission, soliciting views and ideas on the UCC.
“Personal laws are deeply intertwined with the religious identity and practices of minorities. A common civil code will dilute the unique rights and protections enjoyed by minority groups and erode their religious and cultural autonomy. Protecting minority rights and preserving their distinct practices is crucial in a pluralistic society like India,” read the letter to the Law Commission of India by Adv. Sumaiya Roshan, president of the NFGIO.
“UCC threatens the freedom to observe religious identity and practices, abolishing gender-specific protection guaranteed under various personal laws. The gender equality claims under UCC disguise the attempt to implement majoritarian principles on all citizens as seen in Special Marriage Act, a supposed uniform law model, which is based on majoritarian morality allowing exceptions to customary laws, with respect to un-codified Hindu customs,” read a press note by the NFGIO.
The 21st Law Commission report emphasised that secularism could not contradict the plurality prevalent in the country, it noted.
The NFGIO further inspected how absolute equality can sometimes lead to injustice. “The potential implementation of the UCC by amalgamating various religious codes may force individuals to adhere to laws derived from majoritarian principles, potentially threatening minority communities,” it said.
The NFGIO pointed out how the Law Commission of India previously emphasized the importance of preserving the country’s pluralistic nature, but now fresh views are being sought again without proper deliberation on previous reports and recommendations.
“This suggests a lack of comprehensive discussion and raises doubts about the intention behind the UCC discourse, which deliberately focuses on divisive issues rather than addressing important issues that are also a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, such as securing a basic living wage for workers, prohibition on alcohol, improving public health, or providing equal economic opportunities to all,” it said.
The NFGIO also analyzed that in the current situation, stirring up issues related to the UCC only serves to increase differences and create chaos, rather than contributing to the country’s overall wellbeing, and demanded that the law commission contemplates its predecessor’s conclusion and respect legal pluralism in the country.