All citizens of a nation must be governed by the same laws enacted by a democratically elected polity and should fall under the preview of the constitution. When India got its freedom in 1947, the framers made sure that the rights of the citizen were not trampled under any condition. In 1949 when the preamble of our constitution was framed which was later amended in 1976 during emergency, one thing was made clear, no citizen of India would be exempted from Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. But somehow personal law which is rooted with religious dogma never became a part of our society.
The Muslim personal law board has been the chief crusader against the implementation of uniform civil code because it knows the real value of what will happen if this law is ever passed and for many years due to the prevalence of political appeasement by various political parties, especially the Congress has managed to stem the tide in its favor. But in reality, due to the absence of a uniform civil code, Muslims in India have suffered, especially woman. The whole premise of Hindus interfering into the matters of Islamic jurisprudence is just not possible because the idea is to give the same right to all the citizenry. The Muslim personal law only gives them the right to be governed by Shariah principles in the personal matters of marriage, inheritance, property rights and religious observance. Commercial and criminal law is the same for all Indians. Then why this fierce opposition? The answer is simple, power. Throughout the world the society is dominated by men and this is exactly the issue with the Muslim personal law board. They are afraid to lose power over the other half of the Muslim Population, i.e.” Woman”.
Uniform civil law will give men and woman the same right in the matter of marriage, inheritance and property rights. What happens when a woman will enjoy these equal rights under the law, they become more independent, stronger and will enjoy the forbidden right to be assertive. Islam is probably the first religion to grant woman property rights and this issue is a major thorn on the side of the religious leaders because they know if woman have equal rights under the law, there will be a lot of complication arising out of it. In India the legal age for marriage is 18 years, but in Islam it is permitted to get a girl married at an early age. But this does not mean Hindus do not practice underage marriages which is still prevalent in many parts of the country. But the bottom line is control of woman. There is no justification to cite religious edicts and laws written hundreds of years ago to violate the rights of woman in a modern society. There is nothing wrong in being conservative but it is wrong to steal a woman’s rights.
The opposition to Uniform civil law is completely based upon these fears of the Muslim Ulama losing control over woman and the most famous case to argue in favor of Uniform civil law is that of shah Bano case, where the supreme court of India gave its verdict of a 62-year-old Muslim woman, who was divorced by her husband in 1978 and was denied alimony. But sadly after winning the case at the Supreme Court of India she was subsequently denied alimony because the Indian Parliament under the majority of Congress party reversed the judgment under pressure from Islamic orthodoxy and All India Muslim Personal Law Board which is a clear violation under the spirit of secularism. The judgement in favor of the woman in this case steamed criticism from Islamic religious quarters because it was seen interfering with right to practice their religion. The bill passed by the government only diluted the rights of Muslim woman and what the Congress got in return was a bank guarantee of Muslim vote bank, where the men told woman who to vote which is a clear violation of our constitution and the rights of an individual.
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