Union Law Minister Sadananda Gowda said on Tuesday that a uniform civil code (UCC) was the “need of the hour and in national interest” and “a step should be taken in that direction,” but added that the government would not move on the issue without due consultation and consensus, not just within the government but with all stakeholders.
The Minister spoke to The Hindu in response to the Supreme Court’s observation asking the government to make its position clear on ushering in the UCC within three weeks. The apex court was hearing a petition with regard to a divorce case involving a Christian couple.
“My answer is the same as it was in April on the floor of the House. Yes, the UCC will certainly have some positive impact on national integrity, but in this country, for the last several years, having several kinds of personal and customary laws, it is not a matter to be settled in two days,” he said.
“The Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 do say that there should be UCC, but it is a very sensitive issue, needs wider consultation, across communities and party lines,” he said.
The BJP considers three issues to be its core ideological issues — the UCC, the abolition of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
“The affidavit will be filed after I consult with these people, after which we will open the issue and talk to all stakeholders,” he said, adding that would include the heads of various personal law boards. This was important, he said, since “tomorrow if a small issue is left out, it can become a major sticking point.”
Asked why the government had not proceeded on its core issues with regard to the UCC and Article 370, he said “unless everyone was satisfied, such changes cannot be effected.” With reference to the J&K High Court order upholding Article 370, the Minister said he had not examined the judgment and had asked the ASG to send a copy of it to him. “We haven’t taken any call yet on the matter, I still need to look at the judgment,” he said.