Jamiat calls Uttarakhand UCC move ‘discriminatory’

‘If Scheduled Tribes can be kept outside the ambit of the law, then why can’t religious freedom be granted to us?’

Published - February 07, 2024 04:39 am IST - NEW DELHI

The oldest Muslim body in the country, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, has strongly opposed the Uttarakhand government’s move to usher in the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), calling it “discriminatory in nature” and “an attempt to curtail religious freedom of the citizens”.

“The Uniform Civil Code has been tabled in the Uttarakhand Assembly today and the Scheduled Tribes have been exempted from the new law under sub-section 342 of Chapter 25 of Article 366 of the Constitution of India. It has been argued that their rights are protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. What about Muslims and the rights given to the minorities,” asked Jamiat president Arshad Madani. “If the Scheduled Tribes can be kept apart from this law under one section of the Constitution, then why can’t religious freedom be given to us under Sections 25 and 26 of the Constitution, recognising the fundamental rights of citizens. If it is actually a uniform civil code, then why this distinction between citizens?” he added

The Jamiat is studying the legal aspects of the Bill after which a decision will be taken to approach the judiciary.

Though Mr. Madani held the Uniform Civil Code to be “against the Shariah”, he insisted that the opposition to the move was to keep the spirit of secular India alive. “The question is not about the personal law of Muslims, but about keeping the country’s secular Constitution. India is a secular country and the meaning of secularism in the Constitution is that the country has no religion of its own.”

He held that the new code, far from promoting unity among citizens, is likely to create fresh fissures. “It is also detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country. For the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code, Article 44 is presented as evidence and it is propagated that such a code is mentioned in the Constitution. The concerned Article 44 is not a directive but a suggestion.”

Mr. Madani held that there are no uniform criminal laws in the country. “It needs to be tackled first before talking of the Uniform Civil Code. It’s a strange thing. The provisions of the Indian Penal Code are not uniform in the country, its nature changes across States. Even the cow slaughter laws are not uniform. Same with reservation laws.” When the criminal law is not the same in the whole country, then why this insistence on applying a family law throughout the country, he asked.

“Our country is multi-cultural and multi-religious. One civil law cannot work here. Those who advocate Article 44 forget that under the same section it has been said that the State should take steps for banning alcohol in the country, the gap between the rich and the poor should be eliminated, why is the government not doing this,” he asked, adding, “The latest move is part of a conspiracy to keep the minorities under fear”.

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