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BJP welcomes court suggestion on common civil code

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI JULY 23. The Bharatiya Janata Party today welcomed the suggestion made by the Chief Justice of India, V.N. Khare, that the Government endeavour to enact a common civil code for all citizens irrespective of sex or religion and added it would "explore the possibility".

The party's reaction was in line with that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The suggestion was made by the Chief Justice in a judgment delivered today in a case related to succession laws as applicable to Christians.

The party spokesperson, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, said the BJP had always favoured a common civil code.

In every country, there was one civil code for all citizens and even in India there was a common criminal procedure code accepted by all the minorities. "We welcome the sane advice given by the Supreme Court."

However, Mr. Malhotra's enthusiasm did not seem to be shared by the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, who refused to comment when reporters referred to the court advice. "If I speak it will be on behalf of the Government. I would not like to say anything... the party spokesman must have said something," Mr. Advani said.

Mr. Malhotra said the Directive Principles of the Constitution spoke of the desirability of moving towards a common civil code but in 55 years nothing much had been done.

"We will explore the possibility, but we hope all parties, including the Opposition, will welcome this,'' he said.

It seems the party is applying the formula it used in its Ayodhya resolution from Raipur — for as it did on the Ram temple issue, on a common civil code too it virtually threw the ball in the Congress court.

"The Congress has talked about respecting the judicial verdict on Ayodhya, now it should say whether it was ready to accept the judicial advice on a uniform civil code... the Congress party should first give its view on this," Mr. Malhotra said.

Asked whether the BJP would take it up with its allies — for this is one of the "contentious issues" which was kept out of the National Agenda for Governance adopted by the National Democratic Alliance — Mr. Malhotra said the party would talk to its allies "whenever we meet".

The RSS spokesperson, Ram Madhav, made much the same points as made by Mr. Malhotra.

He said that since Muslims never objected to a common criminal procedure code, there was no reason why they should not accept a common civil code. He regretted that no sooner had the Supreme Court made its suggestion than some Muslim leaders immediately stated that they would not tolerate interference in their personal laws.

The Telugu Desam Party parliamentary leader, Yerran Naidu, was not ready to comment, saying: "We will give the party view after studying what the Supreme Court said".

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