The introduction of a private member bill by a BJP member on implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) across the country witnessed vociferous protest from the Opposition members in Rajya Sabha on December 9, 2022. The Opposition members requested the BJP member Kirodi Lal Meena to withdraw the Bill and also asked Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to not accept the legislation as it will destroy the secular fabric of the country.
The Bill seeks constitution of the National Inspection and Investigation Committee for preparation of UCC and its implementation throughout India.
Union minister Piyush Goyal defended the introduction of the bill. “Am pained to see the comments made by members quoting (B.R) Ambedkar. It is the legitimate right of a member to raise an issue which is under the directive principles of the constitution, let this subject be debated in the House. My colleague Prakash Javadekar will elaborate on this later but at this stage to cast aspersions on the government, to try to criticise the bill at introduction stage is uncalled for, I would like that the bill be introduced,” Mr. Goyal said.
Private members’ bill needs the backing of the government to get passed in the Parliament.
The introduction of the bill was put for voting and was passed through a voice vote, of 63 votes in favour and 23 against. Many Opposition members from Congress, Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were not present during the discussion and at the time of voting.
Opposing the bill, MDMK’s Vaiko charged at the treasury benches saying “patriotism is not the monopoly of you people.”
“You may have majority, they are implementing the agenda of RSS. They have finished Kashmir...we are leading towards disaster and disintegration of the country, minorities are terribly hurt, kindly see that the bill is not introduced today. It is a day of shame and sorrow that we have to go through this,” Mr. Vaiko said.
IUML’s Abdul Wahab said this was a deliberate provocation and it cannot be implemented in India. “This is not a criminal code, everywhere intolerance is there...this is not in benefit of nation, take back this bill,” he said.
Elamaram Kareem from CPI said that India is a secular country and when there are so many other principles such as fixing wages for labourers why was the government not implementing them. “This bill will burn the country,” Mr. Kareem said.
Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya (CPI-M) asked whether the BJP member wants unity of the country and diversity to be destroyed. “Country is facing crisis, let us restore unity, the division among the people will not help you to grow economically or socially, let society mature and discuss among themselves,” the CPI-M member from West Bengal said.
V Sivadasan, CPI-M member from Kerala said, “the aim of this kind of bills is to ruin the unity of India. We should protect unity in diversity….India is not built by bricks and stones, it was built by the spirit of freedom fighters.”
John Brittas (CPI-M) said the the 21st Law Commission concluded that UCC is neither necessary nor desirable. “Law minister should be aware of this, if he takes some time away from attacking the Supreme Court, it is against spirit of the constitution....this is supposed to be an uncivil code, we should not use a piece of legislation for polarisation in society and it is detrimental for the country, please withdraw the bill immediately,” he urged the BJP member and the Chair.
AA Rahim (CPI-M) said that India is a land of pluralism and the RSS and Sangh Parivar have been using this issue as a political tool.
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav said the bill was against the principles of Constitution. “Muslims marry first cousins, is it possible in Hindus? Will you apply the code from this side or the other end? This will lead to disillusionment among the people,” Mr. Yadav said.
Sandosh Kumar P (CPI) said, “this will endanger the secular credentials of country, they have divided villages on the lines of India Pakistan, ….this is detrimental to national interest.”
Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said the same bill was listed many times earlier but was not introduced on being requested by members. “This country’s base is secularism and federalism, both are at stake now. We foresee what may happen if this private members bill is passed. When it is taken up for consideration, they have majority, it will be passed. What will be the mindset of minorities? We should not create apprehension in their minds? During partition Jinnah asked Muslims to come to Pakistan, but they stayed back, they contributed to the economy and fought for the country, we are really agonised. We are termbling, the whole country will be watching this, consider the future of this country,” the DMK member said.
L. Hanumanthaiah of Congress party said extreme left and extreme right ideologies are dangerous to democracy. “We should not enter into such extremities in a healthy democracy like India. We should retain the fabric of this country, we are only a small democracy of 75 years,” he said.
Trinamool Congress’ Jawahar Sircar said the bill is unconstitutional and unethical and was being introduced by an indulgent government to test the waters.
Congress party’s Jebi Mather Hashim said a bill be in public interest and with this kind of bill there will be no peace in the country. “This bill is against the constitution and there are many examples where democracy is being derailed and minority voices are being submerged,” she said.
Rashtriya Janta Dal’s Manoj Jha said the bill was not introduced earlier on six occasions. “Families are divided, villages are divided. This is not in country’s interest,” Mr. Jha said.
Nationalist Congress Party’s Fauzia Khan said the bill is not in consonance with democracy and was not a question of only Hindu-Muslims.
Imran Pratapgarhi of Congress party said that at a time when the country is divided, to introduce a bill at this time is not desired.