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  Opinion   Edit  06 Jul 2023  AA Edit | UCC: Make haste slowly... Ensure justice for all first

AA Edit | UCC: Make haste slowly... Ensure justice for all first

Published : Jul 7, 2023, 12:01 am IST
Updated : Jul 7, 2023, 12:01 am IST

It is a fact that the personal laws of several communities are not in line with the idea of freedom of a modern society.

 BJP leader Sushil Modi. (PTI File)
  BJP leader Sushil Modi. (PTI File)

The opinion of chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and BJP leader Sushil Modi that tribals from the Northeastern states and other regions of the country be kept out of the ambit of the proposed Uniform Civil Code reflects the potential of variance in opinion the topic could trigger and reminds the government of the pitfalls of bulldozing its agenda on the country.

The framers of the Constitution were mindful of the diversity of this country and hence decided that the final document they would prepare will be a protective cover for the single individual, irrespective of caste/ religion, sex, region or other conceivable markers that differentiate one individual from the other and the state would be a tool to enforce that cover.  It is not for no reason that Article 14, which states that “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India,” and Article 15, which inter alia, ensures that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of “religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”, have been celebrated so much by the people for whom independence of the country and its new Constitution mattered.

This single individual whom the Constitution sought to protect is still being subjected to injustice on so many fronts — economic, political legal, civil, etc., and we as a nation believe that we are making attempts to address them. It is a fact that the personal laws of several communities are not in line with the idea of freedom of a modern society and hence we must make efforts to make suitable amends to them. But it is not yet clear if a uniform approach to address the issues of different communities is the best way forward. Mr Modi was only highlighting this fact; for the tribals across India follow customs distinctly different from others and they are protected by Article 13 of the Constitution.

It is important that we do away with the laws that stop people from accessing justice but the notion of becoming a nation that follows uniform laws in all spheres of human life would be contradictory to the idea of celebrating our diversity. An insistence on it could have unexpected consequences. True, India has hollowed out Article 370 which conferred special status on the state of Jammu and Kashmir but still retains Article 371 which contains “special provisions” for 11 states, including six states of the Northeast, with a view to protecting their customs.

The Directive Principles of State Policy listed in the Constitution describe the destination the Indian nation will reach when we are able to meet all the promises — justice, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual — mentioned in the Preamble. Since the journey must be as noble as the destination, we, as a nation, have a duty to ensure that everyone is on board while we travel. Mr Modi just wants us to pause before we rush towards it. 

Tags: uniform civil code (ucc), sushil modi, abrogation of article 370