- The Law Commission has started collecting public opinion of the Uniform Civil Code.
- Muslim leaders have lashed out against it, and BJP leaders have come in support.
- Not just triple talaq, all religious laws and bans should be abolished entirely.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave the expected government line, during his interaction with the media after the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board gave a fiery denouncement of the Law Commission's initial steps towards a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
Speaking to reporters, he proudly proclaimed that the India cannot put religion ahead of citizen's rights.
"Personal law cannot practise, propagate discrimination; cannot allow a compromise with human dignity. Personal law and practises can certainly deal with religion, can dictate upon rituals. The religion cannot dictate upon rights of individuals," the Finance Minister said.
This follows similar sentiments that the BJP has gingerly advocated for years now, but never too strongly. As such, this is the strongest push any Indian government has made to bring all of its citizens under one law.
Now this is a noble pursuit for sure. The idea that an Indian woman - Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Parsi or Sikh or Jain - should be deprived of her fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the spirit of equality is abhorrent.
And expanding this idea to all citizens irrespective of gender, the idea that any citizen must be restricted by religious laws - which they may not personally believe in - is a violation of the spirit of this country.
Perhaps this is precisely why the BJP has been pushing for the UCC gingerly and not forcefully.
After all, just last week, Mohan Bhagwat, the leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's Hindutva big brother in all things ideological, batted for 'good' Gau Rakshaks, whom he felt were being maligned thanks to a few criminals.
PM Modi harps around the world that there is no distinction between 'good' terrorist and 'bad' terrorist but the RSS wants us to differentiate 'good' Gau Rakshak and 'bad' Gau Rakshak.
The very idea that India can have a body of men who can be considered 'Gau Rakhsaks' is disturbing. Beef is banned in large parts of India thanks to a host of laws, some of which can be traced back to Akbar the Great, that ban the consumption, sale and possession of cow meat.
And why does this ban exist? Various BJP leaders have casually stated various hems and haws all of which add up to "our dharma says so".
And this law has been enforced through terror, through the obstruction of transports and through the savage beating to death of Dalits by gloating Hindu bands.
No one seems to consider the Fundamental Right to Life, to Property, of Freedom of Movement and to basically live life in a manner chosen by oneself and not imposed by terror.
True, the protection of cows is in the Constitution, but if we are going to be that adherent to the words written down in 1947, then personal laws were also written down then only.
Why is one set of words more 'holy' than the other?
We need a uniform civil code - this is true. And we also need to do away with laws that seek to restrict citizens based on religious beliefs that some believe in, though not all.
Though the BJP is on the right side of history in its attempt to reform discriminatory personal laws in India, it may soon find itself on the backfoot when, as is inevitable in such issues, its own treasured religiously motivated laws are questioned.
We all have our 'holy cows.'
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:35 PM IST