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In Search For a Uniform Civil Code

In India the constitution came into effect on 26th January, 1950. In theory we got a very liberal framework that could have been an instrument to promote equality among all Indians irrespective of caste, sex, race etc. Though a lot of progress has been made in form of social and cultural reform, several essential sectors have remained stuck in stone age.
Indian Law is still, by and large pathetically outdated. This is not a matter of dispute. All policymakers and lawyers accept this. Of course they prefer not to implement a new one. Who wants to change the syllabus anyway? :)

So what is the Big Fuss?

Simply put, the Indian laws, the Penal Code, the constitution, all, by and large do not differentiate between Indians. In comes the Personal Law. Hell, this one could well have been a troll comics in other countries. In spite of being a "secular" country, India has two distinct Personal Laws. One for a set of Indians, collectively called "Hindus" and the other one applies only to the "Muslims". Oh and another one applies only to the Christians.  Naturally they are called the Hindu, Muslim and Christian Personal Laws. Of course, the Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists may get real upset. So the "Hindu Personal Law" applies to all of them as well.

How is it so funny? What's the BIG DEAL?

Let me give you a wonderful example. In the Hindu Personal Law a guy can legally marry only one woman. In the Muslim Personal Law he can marry up-to 4 wives simultaneously. A Hindu guy can convert to Islam and get their quota of 4 wives fulfilled! As soon as he becomes a Muslim, the tyranny of the Hindu Personal Law no longer applies to him! This is not a hypothetical situation. Stuff like this happened. Check out this wonderful politician.

So why this difference?

Ah, well, its in the Holy scriptures you see. :D So legally the "secular" judiciary can not exercise jurisdiction on its matters. Another funny story is about divorce. In Hindu Personal Law divorce is a long drawn out affair. But in the Muslim Personal Law a triple talaq means end of the marriage "contract"! Its like you are fighting and lo, suddenly shoot a triple talaq at your wife point blank and she is no longer your wife! Scholars debate a lot on this topic. But only regarding the matter of a drunken husband. A ridiculous incident happened in 2012 in Delhi where a guy got drunk and triple-talaqed his wife. The lady was furious and challenged in the court. Guess what, the divorce was considered invalid! The ulema(Islamic scholars who are in direct liaison with God) pronounced the verdict un-Islamic and the divorce valid! Of course this guy thinks otherwise but his article, though well meaning, is somwhat contradictory. The Quran does not force you to TT your wife but it does permit it. As for the "four steps before triple talaq", they are not compulsory but only a recommendation.

There are other hilarious events like these God fearing folks came to know that a drunk hubby TT-ed his wife. So they became strangers and in keeping with upholding Divine laws they have been preventing the "erstwhile" couple from living together. Indeed unmarried people living together is haram.

Why not get a Law for everyone?

Hey, try getting one. Lets look at the history of these laws post Independence. Ironically it was the Indian National Congress that actually started pushing for a Uniform Civil Code and the Jan Sangh(present day BJP) opposed it. Alas! The demographics have changed now and the exact opposite it visible now with the BJP putting Civil Code even as  a central philosophy to nation building and Congress and even Marxist parties opposing it! The Indian political arena is unique that even leftist parties shy away from some of the fundamental secular ideals. There have been attempts to remedy the case of injustice and blatant inequality. You may look into the famous Shah Bano case for example. A simple Google Search will yield considerable results. If you wish to have a good laugh go through them. There are plenty of guys who oppose equality on the grounds of Shariah. In many countries these folks would have been successful stand-up comedians. But we are currently not short on humor.


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