Law Commission seeks public opinion on Uniform Civil Code

: The Law Commission on Friday sought public opinion on the exercise of revising and reforming family laws of all religions in the context of Article 44 of the Constitution, which talks of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for all citizens.

The Commission has appealed to members of religious, minority and social groups, non-government organisations, political parties and government agencies, to present their views through a questionnaire on a range of issues, including the practice of triple talaq and the right to property for a woman citizen.

“The objective behind this endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices. The Commission invites suggestions on all possible models and templates of a common civil code,” said the Commission in its appeal. The responses can be sent within 45 days, either through post or email.

In July, the Law Ministry had asked the Law Commission to examine all issues related to UCC in detail.

‘A healthy conversation’

“The Commission hopes to begin a healthy conversation about the viability of a UCC and will focus on family laws of all religions and the diversity of customary practices, to address social injustice rather than the plurality of laws…the Commission will consider the opinions of all stakeholders and the general public for ensuring that the norms of no one class, group of community dominate the tone or tenor of family law reforms,” it said.

In its questionnaire, the Commission has sought public opinion on issues like these: whether the UCC should include all of some of the subjects, including marriage, divorce, adoption, guardianship and child custody, maintenance, successions and inheritance; whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification; whether codification can ensure gender equality; and whether the UCC should be optional.

Insightful questions

Views on issues pertaining to the denial of maintenance or insufficient maintenance, compulsory registration of marriages, protection of couples who enter into inter-religion and inter-caste marriages, and the legal validity of the UCC vis-à-vis the individual right to freedom of religion, have been asked.

Responses on whether polygamy, polyandry and other customary practices like ‘ maitri-karaar ’ (friendship deed) should be banned or regulated, and whether the practice of triple talaq should be abolished in toto, retained, or retained with suitable amendments, have also been invited.

Besides, the Commission has asked if steps need to be taken to ensure that Hindu women are better able to exercise their right to property, which is often bequeathed to sons under customary practices; whether the two-year waiting period for finalising divorce violates Christian women’s right to equality; and whether all religious denominations should have common grounds for divorce.

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