Uniform civil code infringes upon freedom of religion, DMK MP tells Law Commission Chairman

Uniform civil code infringes upon freedom of religion, DMK MP tells Law Commission Chairman

New Delhi: Senior advocate and DMK Rajya Sabha member P. Wilson on Monday wrote to the Chairman of the 22nd Law Commission, opposing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), saying that it would infringe upon the freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.

Justifying the opposition to UCC, Wilson said that it desecrates the holy sacraments like marriage, which should be within the domain of religious institutions when it comes to marriage between believers.

"Marriage is not just a civil union in most religions. In Christianity for example, marriage is a sacrament. It is a facet of religion, that is why it is called the sacrament of holy matrimony. It has to be consecrated by an ordained priest, in the presence of members of the Church, in a manner specified by the Catholic Church.

"Therefore, if the UCC provides for marriages to be registered before an authority like the Registrar, it denigrates and desecrates a holy sacrament. That apart, Christians have a practice of having marriage counselling before consecrating a marriage. A UCC will be the end of this practice. Ultimately therefore, the UCC targets religious practices and interferes with the free practice of one's religion," he wrote in the letter, a copy of which was also directed to the Parliament's Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, and Law and Justice Chairman Sushil Modi.

"Civil codes can be applied to atheists or inter-religious marriages as is already the case of the Special Marriages Act, 1954. While the idea of a Uniform Civil Code may seem appealing on the surface, it is crucial to consider the negative impact it could have on our diverse society,” Wilson said in the letter.

Preserving religious freedom, respecting cultural diversity and avoiding unintended consequences should be considered, he said, adding that instead of thrusting a uniform code, we should focus on encouraging dialogue, understanding and gradual reforms within communities through social engineering to weed out undesirable practices.

The DMK MP said that uniformity in rights should be the aim, rather than in laws.

“We can always take steps to protect women's equality by amending personal laws. These are extremely prescient findings and suggestions already given by the 21st Law Commission of India and there was no reason to redo the entire exercise at the cost of state exchequer and wastage of time again by 22nd Law Commission,” Wilson said.

Citing the public reaction on hijab ban judgement passed by the Karnataka High Court, the DMK MP emphasised upon drawing from that experience to understand that while dealing with deep-rooted religious faith, a cut and dry approach can't be adopted and instead, an approach laden with compassion, understanding and patience is needed.

He urged the Law Commission Chairman to furnish information about the expenditure incurred by the panel in consultations, meetings, publishing questionnaire etc. for the Consultation Paper dated August 31, 2018.

Wilson also sought the list of participants, respondents and consultants who participated in the consultation.

The 22nd Law Commission began seeking comments from the public on the UCC from June 14 onwards, and the last date for seeking views is till July 14.

The Rajya Sabha Parliamentary standing committee led by BJP MP Sushil Modi on Monday met representatives of the 22nd Law Commission and law ministry officials to seek their views on the UCC.

(The content of this article is sourced from a news agency and has not been edited by the ap7am team.)

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