New Delhi: Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) has expressed its support for a religion-neutral and gender-just uniform civil code (UCC). In accordance with Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, which emphasizes the need for a UCC, IMSD believes that a genuine effort should involve nationwide discussions and deliberations to evolve a national consensus, rather than imposing the codes of any particular religion on all citizens. Gender justice must be prioritized in such endeavours.
The statement highlights that the 21st Law Commission, in its 2018 report, deemed a UCC as “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.” However, the 22nd Law Commission has rekindled the issue by seeking public and religious organizations’ opinions on the UCC. Surprisingly, the Commission has not provided a draft for feedback.
IMSD urges secular political parties to avoid falling into the perceived trap set by the ruling BJP government, as the timing of the initiative, the absence of a draft, and the upcoming general elections within a year raise suspicions about the government’s motives.
Opposition from Muslim bodies, including AIMPLB, Jamiat ulema-e-Hind, and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, claim the UCC proposal violates religious freedom and Fundamental Rights, but IMSD argues that Article 25 allows for social welfare and reform.
IMSD highlights the irony of some ulema clinging to patriarchal gender norms in the name of Islam, while Muslim-majority countries and Muslims in Western democracies have reformed family laws. IMSD calls for reforms such as court-based divorce, women’s right to initiate divorce, fair maintenance, banning polygamy and halala, equitable inheritance and guardianship laws, provisions for wills, child custody based on the child’s best interests, and the right to marry without limitations.