Resolution in Kerala Assembly seeks to scrap plan for UCC

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled the politically consequential motion that has an immediate bearing on preserving the personal laws

Updated - August 09, 2023 01:45 am IST

Published - August 08, 2023 05:22 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

 Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. File.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. File. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Kerala Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government abandon the polarising move to draft a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled the politically consequential motion that has an immediate bearing on preserving the personal laws that govern marriage, divorce, inheritance, and succession of minority community members, chiefly Muslims. Notably, Christians, especially Catholics, accept canon laws as personal laws.

Also read | The politics of the Uniform Civil Code

Rare unanimity

Predictably, Mr. Vijayan won across-the-aisle support from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) opposition.

The rare political unanimity was seen in the Assembly in 2019 when the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and UDF closed ranks to oppose the Centre’s “patently anti-Muslim” Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) legislation.

Imposition of Manusmriti

Mr. Vijayan said BJP intended to dictate how society should run under the pretext of imposing a UCC. It sought to slyly imbue the proposed UCC with aspects of the Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu code that endorsed the oppressive caste system and was deeply prejudicial to women, he said.

Mr. Vijayan said the BJP did not hew to the concept of UCC as mentioned in the Constitution’s Directive Principles of State Policy.

Instead, Mr. Vijayan said, the BJP sought to use UCC as a legislative pretext to pass a dubious law to enslave citizens under a viciously harsh, obscurantist, retrogressive and viscerally hierarchical caste system that sought to retard the social progress ushered in by the Renaissance movement.

Move to create a Hindu nation

Mr. Vijayan said the Sangh Parivar aimed to reinstate feudalism by goading the Central government to lurch to revanchism.

He said the BJP sought to create a Hindu nationalist State. The criminalisation of triple talaq, stripping Kashmir of its special status, violence against minorities, Dalits and tribes, and bulldozing the CAA through the Parliament without discussion were precursors to the Sangh Parivar agenda.

UCC negates tribal rights

Mr. Vijayan pointed out that a UCC would render the statutory autonomous councils for tribal development in North Eastern States redundant.

He said it would end the special protections given to Dalits. A UCC was no panacea for the country’s ills. It seeks to erase the fundamental right of citizens to practice, profess and propagate the religion of their choice and live by the personal laws that their respective faiths prescribe, Mr. Vijayan said.

Opposition amendment

Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan’s amended the resolution by urging the Assembly to oppose the UCC in toto instead by removing the “diluting” proviso that communal consensus was a pre-requisite for a common legal code. He felt the lack of such an emphasis would water down the resolution’s spirit.

The Assembly also registered deep worry over the Centre’s bid to impose UCC, expressing worry that it would fracture the country and subsume its ethnic, linguistic and religious diversities.

BJP slams resolution

The BJP condemned the resolution. BJP State President K. Surendran said the ruling front and opposition misused the Assembly to create religious polarisation to reap political dividends by “appeasing a particular section of the society”.

Mr. Vijayan has made a mockery of himself and the House by passing a resolution on a uniting common legal code not yet considered by the Parliament. He had also contradicted CPI(M) leaders, including E M S Namboodiripad, who supported UCC as a precursor to creating a genuinely secular State. Congress and BJP had bent their knees to “vote bank politics”.

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