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  India   New UCC could be optional, says law panel chief

New UCC could be optional, says law panel chief

Published : Nov 6, 2016, 6:52 am IST
Updated : Nov 6, 2016, 6:52 am IST

The Law Commission plans to recommend to the Union government to legislate a common law which will take care of all matters related to divorce, maintenance or alimony and child custody issues, but to

The Law Commission plans to recommend to the Union government to legislate a common law which will take care of all matters related to divorce, maintenance or alimony and child custody issues, but to not make it “compulsory”.

Chairman of the Law Commission, Justice B.S. Chauhan, said that the law should be “optional,” leaving the decision to women in case they want to seek remedy under the proposed law.

 

Speaking exclusively with this newspaper, Justice Chauhan said that at present a woman has to face multiple legal proceedings for divorce, to seek alimony from her former husband and to claim the custody of her child/children.

He said the Law Commission is working on a common law for all that will provide composite court proceedings encompassing divorce, maintenance and children’s custody. “We have sought the views of different stake-holders whether the law can be made optional. We will recommend a draft law to take care of all situations and in what manner it can be enforced,” he said.

Asked to spell out the scope of the common law, Justice Chauhan clarified, “We ourselves don’t know what Uniform Civil Code is and what is required. At this stage we cannot anticipate what should be the model and what will be acceptable to people. We did not want to recommend something that people do not want.

 

At this stage we can only say that triple talaq is abolished in 22 Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. Those who are claiming that they are progressive will not support the form of triple talaq sent through SMS or email,” he said and cited a recent incident in Rajasthan where a Muslim husband on coming to know that his wife has delivered a girl child said “talaq” thrice and divorced his wife. “We only oppose such misuse.”

“After collecting feedback, we will be able to draw an inference whether the time for UCC has come or not. Our recommendations will go to a standing committee, then to Parliament and ultimately it is the government’s decision whether it wants to implement it or not,” he said.

 

The Law Commission recently sought the public’s view on the abolition of the practice of “triple talaq” and on Uniform Civil Code, triggering a country-wide debate.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the practice of triple talaq, saying, “What is the crime of my Muslim sister that just like that over the telephone someone says ‘talaq’ three times and her whole life should be ruined ”

Justice Chauhan said that the response to the commission’s questionnaire has been “overwhelming”. The commission has received over 50,000 e-mails and of them at least 50 per cent pertain to Uniform Civil Code. “Majority of the responses support our initiative, some have criticised us, but by and large women’s organizations across the country have welcomed the initiative and strongly opposed triple talaq,” he said.

 

He said the commission’s questionnaire was framed in a way as to seek the opinion of women and stake-holders about ending several religious practices and customs amongst Hindus, Muslims and Christians that are believed to be anti-women.

“The law commission has widened its consultation on the Uniform Civil Code, asking all national and state political parties including BJP, Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress to share their views on the contentious issue on or before November 21. We have also asked the chief ministers of all states to give their views. We have asked them to suggest whether the practice of triple talaq be abolished, and whether a Uniform Civil Code should be optional. We have even asked All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi (who is opposed to UCC) to give his views. We have asked him to come and debate with us.”

 

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi