Much has been discussed and debated recently about Uniform Civil Code with Central Government being asked by the apex court of its response on Shayara Bano’s petition. Petitioner Bano challenged the constitutionality of Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, in so far as it seeks to recognise and validate polygamy, triple talaq and ‘nikah halala’. The Union government told the Supreme Court that ‘triple talaq’, ‘nikaah halaal’ and polygamy, as practised by the Muslims in India, were not “integral to the practices of Islam or essential religious practices”.
This has brought the topic of Uniform Civil Code into foreground again. While a large majority approves of UCC, the critics of UCC come mainly from Islamist groups who claim this would be a violation of their Right to practice their religion. Interestingly, apart from the aforementioned fundamental right, Constitution also says that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India” in Article 44 (Directive Principles of State Policy)
However, Directive Principles of State Policy are not enforceable by any court, but are fundamentals to borrow for efficient, progressive and constitutional governance. This said, one needs to emphasise that in case of conflict in Fundamental Rights and DPSP, Fundamental Rights are to be upheld as they are enforceable.
But is Uniform Civil Code a mere reflection of the mentioned DPSP? Isn’t it enforcing the Right of Equality for women suffering because of regressive laws? Right to Life granted by the constitution comes with Right to dignity as stated by judgements of Supreme Court. Isn’t the practice of Triple Talaaq a violation to the Right of Dignity to the affected women.
A religion which doesn’t evolve with time to absorb the contemporary changes either dies or kills. The motivation of the Central Government behind implementing Uniform Civil Code shouldn’t let us diverge from the main topic in hand which is Right to Equality. It is about time good decisions are taken for the benefit of all.