The government on Friday asked the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and certain other Muslim organisations to reconsider their decision to boycott the Law Commission’s consultation on triple talaq and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). At the same time it sharply criticised the AIMPLB for “targeting” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said here that the government only wanted a debate. Mr. Naidu also asked that the case against triple talaq now under way in the Supreme Court not be mixed up with the efforts of the Law Commission for a UCC.
“The real mood of the country is that people want this triple talaq to end. People do not want any discrimination on the basis of any religious faith against women. As I told you the issues are gender justice, non-discrimination and dignity of women,” he said.
Mr. Naidu criticised the AIMPLB for dragging the Prime Minister into the debate. “You [AIMPLB] participate in the debate. Why are you calling the Prime Minister a dictator? If you are so interested in making political comments you can as well join any political party of your choice. This is not expected from the AIMPLB and other religious leaders. You have to confine yourself to the issue, which is up for discussion by the Law Commission,” he added.
The AIMPLB, while announcing the decision to boycott the Law Commission’s consultation, had criticised the Modi government for allegedly trying to distract attention from its “failures” by raising the issue of UCC.
Speaking to The Hindu , Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the question of a UCC or even invalidation of triple talaq were not matters pertaining to faith but rituals and customs. “I appeal to the AIMPLB and other organisations who announced that they would not be deposing before the Law Commission to not do that.”
“I don’t think the invalidation of triple talaq or a debate on UCC is an attack on a religion or faith. This is a process of reform of traditions and social practices that take place in any society. The government will not do anything that is beyond the scope of the Constitution of India,” he said.
Significantly, Article 44 of the Constitution lists UCC as one of the directive principles of state policy and the creation of a UCC has also been mentioned in the BJP’s manifesto for the 2014 General Elections.
“The AIMPLB should not close the door to debate. It should use logic, speak its piece and argue from their point of view before the Law Commission,” said Mr. Naqvi.
The AIMPLB had, in its press conference on Thursday, accused the Modi government of going after the Muslim community in the observance of its personal laws.
Mr. Naqvi said the board was speaking from a “prejudiced political mindset” and that such statements should not be allowed to cloud the debate. He did not suggest that he, as Minority Affairs Minister, would be speaking to members of the AIMPLB personally to join the Law Commission’s deliberations.
“I appeal to them to be part of the deliberations, but I do not have any plans yet to call a meeting with them,” he said.