Hindus Losing Benefits due to Uniform Civil Code

          Hindus Losing Benefits due to Uniform Civil Code


There was an ingeniously written article by someone who is revered for his scholarship. Titled ‘If Uniform Civil Code Means Hindus Losing Benefits Like Hindu Undivided Family, So Be It, the arguments offered were acceptable, articulate, and didn’t fall flat on logic, except that Hindus will have to lose some benefits for introducing the Uniform Civil Code. Hindus have consistently given what is rightfully theirs, from the Partition of Bengal in 1905 to the division of the nation in 1947. For a secular country, the Uniform Civil Code or UCC should be nothing short of a pinnacle for people. They should welcome it with open arms.

The Muslim community, is largely, and almost perpetually, against the idea of a civil code and wishes to preserve their own separate personal law. When considering the features and pretext of Muslim law concerning Muslim women, the reality is harsh and a terrible compromise. While a Muslim woman should practice monogamy, her husband can have up to four wives at a time. He also has the right to dissolve the marriage at any time he wants. The Muslim wife, on the other hand, can only divorce after approval from her husband.

She is also unentitled to be the legal guardian of her underage child. Under Personal Islamic law, the share of a male heir in property is twice that of a female heir. Other disconcerting components of the law include Nikah halala and no maintenance for a divorced woman after the Iddat period is over. For Muslim women, the question of gender equality has been forever entangled in a complex web of conservatism, patriarchy, and politics. Thus, these Islamic patriarchal and archaic laws are in serious violation of equality and social justice for practicing Muslim women.

Many women in India are living in appalling situations merely because Muslim personal laws are not suspected of modern social changes. On the contrary, efforts are made to reject even the rights and advantages that the Constitution generously offers them under the pretext of religious freedom. Allowing things to continue as they are will mean that more and more personal laws will be tested in court to see how well they follow the Constitution.

Religious leaders have frequently said that Islam gave women’s rights 1,400 years ago, but they refuse to state whether or not these rights are repressive when they are seen objectively. As a result, even after Independence, reform in Muslim family law has not been made. The Shariat Application Act of 1937 governs Indian Muslims, but it offers no protections regarding marriage age, divorce, polygamy, child custody and guardianship, women’s share in a property, and so on. So, practices such as child marriage, triple talaq, halala, polygamy, and no share of a portion of the property to women have continued, in defiance of the constitution and as per Quranic gender bias doctrines.

Similarly, Christian personal laws regarding marriage, divorce, maintenance, and succession rules appear to be old-fashioned, severe, and discriminatory against women. For example, section 10A(1) of the Christian Divorce Law, orders a two-year separation period for any spouse wanting a consensual divorce. Under the 1925 Succession Act, Christian mothers have no right to the property of their deceased children. The father will inherit all the property.

In the Hindu religion casteism, superstitions, Sati, child marriage, and other social evils affected Hindu society in the first part of the nineteenth century. The need for social reform became apparent in the early decades of the nineteenth century. There were social and religious reform movements among Hindus to abolish the caste system, untouchability, Sati, and child marriage. Over time, Hindu society got rid of such archaic practices for equal rights. But that hasn't been the case with other religions in India.

Post-Independence, Hindu Code Bills – which involved the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act of 1956, and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956 were the ones to reform the Hindu personal laws. These rules not only codified Hindu law but also rejected many Hindu practices and traditions. Muslims, on the other hand, is controlled by Muslim personal law, which heavily relies on the opinions of Muslim community leaders.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar once said that rights are protected not by law, but by the social and moral principles of society. If social conscience recognizes the rights that the law suggests to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the community opposes fundamental rights then no law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word. These words are relevant today, for they reflect the thinking of Muslim leaders and clerics who should now come out in support of this initiative. They should start living in the 21st century.

A Bill on UCC should not be opposed just for the opposition. While discussing the Uniform Civil Code, India will deal with another problem. It is time for the Muslim community to demonstrate their true faith in the Constitution as its true believers. In fact, UCC will benefit minorities much more than the majority of Hindus. 
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