No Decision on Uniform Civil Code as Law Panel Chairman Set to Retire, Sixth Schedule Also a Hurdle

Aug 20, 2018

The 21st Law Commission of India will not be proposing the much anticipated Uniform Civil Code due to lack of time as its Chairman is set to retire on August 31. There is also the added hurdle of the Sixth Schedule, which gives protection to personal laws in tribal dominated areas. The Commission will now move only amendments to several personal laws.

In December 2017, BS Chauhan, the Law Panel chief, had told this reporter that the exemptions under the Constitution must be honoured as an imbalance could disturb the essence of the Constitution.

“Constitution itself has given so many exemptions to so many people like the tribals, etc. There are exemptions even in Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code… UCC is not a solution and there cannot be a composite act. You cannot say forget the Constitution and do away with the sixth schedule,” said Justice Chauhan.

According to sources in the law commission, News18 has learnt that Commission believes that “even if any future Chairman of the law commission decides to propose a uniform civil code, they would still have to deal with the hurdle of the sixth schedule.”

“The commission has to work within the framework of the Constitution and cannot transgress it. But we cannot propose a UCC now as there is no more time with the Commission,” said a source.

The law ministry, in July 2016, had asked the Law Commission to determine if UCC was possible in India.

In October 2016, the Commission had sought public opinion on the exercise of revising and reforming family laws of all religions in the context of Article 44 of the Constitution, which talks of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for all citizens.

The Commission has appealed to members of religious, minority and social groups, non-government organisations, political parties and government agencies, to present their views through a questionnaire on a range of issues, including the practice of triple talaq and the right to property for a woman citizen.

It was after a year since then that the Commission Chairman had told News18 that UCC would not be possible.

However, the exercise of seeking opinion continued till May 2018 with several bodies and individuals making their pitch for and against this case.

However, a working paper dealing with all such suggestion and making amendments to personal laws will be put up in public domain before the Commission’s term ends on August 31. Public can discuss and debate the working paper thereon.

In December 2017, News18 had reported the chairman’s inclination to move personal law amendments rather than bringing the UCC.

Terming the prospect of Uniform Civil Code difficult to implement, Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan had said, “UCC is not possible and not even an option”.

“Personal Laws can never be done away with as they have constitutional protection,” Justice Chauhan had told this reporter.

The chairman was then planning to suggest specific amendments to several personal laws, dropping the idea of UCC, which gained momentum during public debate on instant triple talaq.

“UCC is not possible. We will try to recommend religion-wise amendments in family laws. It would be the piecemeal way to suggest what are the changes required in Hindu law, Muslim law, Christian law, Parsi law, etc. We will target the problems of each religion and deal with them accordingly. We cannot take the whole UCC, as we cannot go outside the constitution,” the chairman had said in a detailed interview to News18.

Source : News18

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