The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand has recently announced that the state will adopt a Uniform Civil Code(UCC). It was a key promise in the recently concluded assembly elections, which the BJP managed to win convincingly. After the election, the state government has moved to appoint a committee under retired SC justice Ranjana Desai for exploring possibilities of a UCC. However from a Hindutva point of view, UCC is not a good idea.
The chief reason why Hindtuva political opinion is in favor of a Uniform Civil Code is the notion that it will end the Muslim privilege. That Muslims can marry 4 times and that the age of consent for Muslim girls is 16(or whenever the girl attains puberty) is a major difference between practical aspects of Hindu and Muslim family law. The law for divorce and succession etc. is also different, but in no case does it hurt Hindu society. Instead, its main victims are Muslims themselves. Infact, such regressive aspects of Muslim society are the reason for limited social relations between Hindus and Muslims. Unless one wants to promote marriages between Hindus and Muslims (which is mostly achieved by Hindu girls being groomed by Muslim boys), UCC does not make sense. I hope that Hindutva flagbearers would not like that outcome.
The current Hindu law is based on Dharmshastra, ancient Hindu law books. The much reviled and less understood Manusmriti was made the basis of Hindu law by Ambedkar himself. Two separate commentaries on the Smriti texts, one called Mitakshara and another Dayabhag, make the foundation of current Hindu law. There are some modern additions, but the foundation remains the same Dharmashastra. It even helps the Hindus in tax matters, as a Hindu man can split his wealth into two parts by creating an HUF and avoid some tax liability. Muslims or Christians can’t make an HUF. From a Hindu or even Hindutva point of view, why would the Hindus want to abandon Dharmashastras and follow a law based on western secular principles? It does not make sense from a religious or even a financial point of view. In a UCC you cannot have an HUF, or a law based on Dharmashastra to govern Muslims and Christians!
Another issue is the diversity in Hindu Dharma itself. The current Hindu law has scope for diversity. There have been Hindu or semi-Hindu tribals who follow certain traditional laws. There are major differences in family law of Hindus of different parts of the country. These differences range from marriage rituals to succession rules. In a state as small as Uttarakhand, Khasas have had different family law while Jaunsaris used to have the practice of polyandry! How is this diversity going to be treated in a law based on “universal” and thus the western secular principles, based on Christian foundations?
The example of Goa has been adduced by the supporters of UCC. However, even the Goan law has its flaws. A Hindu man in that law can marry twice in certain conditions. Also, it treats Catholic marriages with some preference and other marriages are not considered a religious ritual, but only a contract. Should Hindutva flag bearers support this negation of sacredness of Hindu marriage? These are not the only two issues in the Goan UCC, but should be enough to show that such a UCC is not desirable, specially when we don’t even have a draft of any UCC to support it. In order to irritate the Muslims(many of whom probably wouldn’t even follow the law), Hindu interests should not be sacrificed. Past experience with the secular state should also alert us to the disaster. The westernised bureaucracy and judiciary has been ever-ready to harm Hindu interests. Giving them one more stick to beat us is sheer madness.
The law commission said in its report of 2018 tthat a UCC is “neither feasible, nor desirable” in Bharat. So, can we let the Muslims follow the arcane customs of polygamy and child marriage? What about the tribals who follow similar customs? There should be an informed debate on this matter. The Constitution does mention the UCC in Article 44. Let us note that we have safely ignored many prescriptions of Constitution on the basis of practicability. Given the above discussion, UCC should definitely be on that list, at least for a few more decades. Ultimately, there will also be a gradual convergence in family laws. Triple talaq has already been prohibited. Today, or after a decade, or more, polygamy would be abolished, and child marriage will also be prohibited. That would probably be the best outcome for the Hindutva side – a situation where we retain our own customs and the privileges, while also reforming the Muslim laws which still remain rooted in own religion.
I think Pawanji has valid point !! We have to reform Muslim laws !! So that their poor condition can be corrected with coming time !! Har Har Mahadeo !!