No imposition of uniformity

The Law Commission has opined that a Uniform Civil Code is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.” Indeed, the aggressive zeal with which the militant fringe of the majority community is crying for introducing/imposing a uniform civil code here and now is primarily driven by the urge to further alienate the minority community. In a democratic society what is ideal may not be desirable at a given point of time, far less implementable. If any attempt to bring about change is made by force rather than by the willing acceptance of the people concerned of the need for change, it may prove counter-productive: instead of bringing different sections of people together, it may only result in dividing the people and generating in them a feeling of being excluded. The Law Commission has rightly said that secularism cannot deny the plurality of the country.
It has suggested codification of all personal laws, so that the prejudices and stereotypes in each of them come to light and can be tested on the anvil of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. In the opinion of the Commission: “By codification of different personal laws, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritize equity rather than imposition of a uniform civil code which would discourage many from using the law altogether.” The Hindu Code Bill, it may be recalled, could be passed by the parliament with very few dissenting votes, because the overwhelming majority in the Hindu society supported the Bill. The urge for imposing a uniform civil code today comes from the imperatives of majoritarian politics and the political necessity of its champions to make the religious minorities conform to the religious stereotypes of the majority community.
The feeling of unity or oneness is spontaneous; it has to come from within. Just as nationalist feelings cannot be roused in a person by holding a firearm to his temple, similarly the necessity of certain desirable practices like monogamy should be felt by the members of a religious community. Forcing them to accept something which is desirable may only lead to their alienation. Indeed, the effort of the Government now, should be to hold consultations with the leaders of different communities and work for a codification of all the personal laws. The emotional integration and integrity of the country has to come from accepting the reality that we are a diverse country and our unity springs from this diversity.

Sunday, 2 September, 2018