Lucknow, Jan. 31: The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board today formally sprung the demand for abolition of the uniform civil code enshrined in Article 44 of the Constitution.
At a meeting of its reform committee, general secretary Maulana Syed Nizamuddin said as Muslim personal law was not subject to amendment either by external influence or any other law, “we demand complete abolition of the article”.
“As long as the article remains in the Constitution of India, Muslims will fear interference in their personal law, which is based on the Shariat,” he said.
Although the issue has been simmering for quite a while, with the BJP raking up the demand for a uniform civil code off and on, this is the first time the law board has formally made its position known.
In the perception of a section of the law board, Article 44’s “endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India” goes against the spirit of Article 25 which guarantees the Right to Freedom of Religion.
It claims that as Article 25 — “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion” — is a fundamental right, it should take precedence over Article 44, a directive principle of state policy.
The abolition demand comes in spite of a series of adverse court rulings on Muslim personal law over the years. Several high courts have ruled against the provision that says a man has to pay his former wife maintenance for three months only.
Another law board member A. Mateen said: “The origin of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board was to safeguard the community from intrusion by other laws and we reiterate that Article 44 has become irrelevant.”
The board highlighted the alleged paradoxes in the Constitution and held up the “threat” it saw in Article 44. “Even Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes may be having their own family law. Will it be proper to contemplate doing away with this?” a member asked. The law board, however, stuck to its stand on triple talaq and purdah, though vice-president Kalbe Sadiq has been crying for reform for some time.
“Purdah is not against women’s interests. It is for the proper protection of women. Women cannot ever be independent of men. They are either sister, wife or mother in relation to a man. So, men can protect their self-respect through the purdah system,” Maulana Nizamuddin said.