A Single Civil Code Like The Tunjan Pratima: Have you ever wondered how the law making the age of marriage 21 was passed? The Muslims did not cause much trouble and the North Indian Hindus protested against the RSS. With that, the matter was decided. All that will practically happen in the case of a single civil code is that Muslim women in India now have half the inheritance rights, which will be equal to that of men. The Hindu-undivided-family tax benefits available to Hindus will either disappear or be extended to Muslims and Christians. Same-sex marriage should be allowed. It is because of understanding this practicality that the Muslims who took to the streets against the Citizenship Bill and stopped it did not post a single Facebook post to protest when the Single Civil Code was discussed. The only question is, will the RSS agree to implement a single civil code even if the Muslims agree?
There will be a controversy every year because someone is not agreeing to erect a statue of Thunchathethutchacha in Tirur. BJP and affiliated organizations will hold every press conference and march. The focus is on the people of Malappuram not agreeing to erect the statue. No one will say who did not agree and when they did not agree.
Hundreds of temples, dozens of churches, full of shrines, statues, and icons, and if that was not enough, who opposed the coming of a statue on Malappuram, which has statues of Gandhi, EMS, Melpathur, and Sri Narayanaguru, who knows when. I don’t know who wants the statue. Nobody knows why the BJP people who have the financial capacity to travel in the trunk of a 25 crore car bought two cents of land and erected a statue there and did not pay for it.
Same is the case with Uniform Civil Code. No one knows who wants it and who doesn’t, who will implement it and who won’t. The only certainty is that there will be a controversy every year.
There are great hopes and great fears about the Uniform Civil Code. There are some others who think that if they come, let them come. A large number of hopeful people live by constant propaganda. The understanding of the single civil code is that there will be no reservation in their faith, they will not be able to pray, everyone will have to wear the same clothes, they will not be able to marry according to religious rites, and they will not be able to build a church. Even those who are afraid understand this.
Leaders who have to explain to all of them about the single civil code will again confuse the existing understandings by explaining the Constitution, Constituent Assembly, and guidelines. No one would say that simply. Personal laws have page count but if all personal laws are changed to general law In practice, this will only happen – Muslim women’s present half inheritance rights will become equal to men’s. The Hindu-undivided-family tax benefits available to Hindus will either disappear or be extended to Muslims and Christians. Same-sex marriage should be allowed.
Legislation is the main job of the legislatures and the representatives we elect to them. Even assuming that the constitution and laws are absolute in the first place Rules may need to be amended or supplemented from time to time. Mainly in two ways. Laws are the first to change as technology and living conditions change. Traffic rules should be observed when motor vehicles arrive. The first is when people start dying due to accidents, insurance is needed, IT laws are needed when the internet comes into existence, etc.
The second is the legislation that needs to be enacted when there are changes in society’s outlook. Mainly when there is a change in society’s perception of human equality.
For example, slavery was abolished long after the US Constitution was enacted. After that, women got property rights, after that, women got the right to vote, and after that, black people got the right to vote. LGBT people start getting rights only after women are given some rights. They are gotten permission to marry only recently. In the meantime, only one thing is changing – the concept of equality. At first, the view was that white males were equal. Then came black men, then women, and finally LGBT people. Since equality is a never-ending concept, it will also change.
India and other countries are on the same path, only the speed is less. Inequality in India was terrible. Sati, where women were burned alive, laws that prevented widows from leaving or remarrying, and disenfranchisement and disinheritance. Untouchability, untouchability, denial of education, despicable atrocities on so-called outcastes, even crueler than slavery. One by one, we move towards the conviction that all human beings are equal. There is still a long way to go on this path.
Similar is the situation in other countries and continents. It can be said that the Arabs, who gave women the right to inheritance and the right to divorce even though they had only half of the property rights in the 7th century, are a model of that time. Reluctant to make significant reforms in the 20th century, they are now belatedly introducing changes.
Women have recently been allowed to drive and have the freedom to travel without a man in many Arab countries. LGBT rights are also undergoing significant rethinking in most countries. Everyone walks forward. The only question is how fast.
The discussion about the Uniform Civil Code is for the same reason – the concept of equality.
Our previous generations have left behind many inequalities for our generation to address. Nothing wrong with that, every generation is like that. We are also leaving many problems for future generations to solve. Even after the Constitution came into effect as the Republic of India, neither Hindu women nor Christian women had the right of succession or the right to divorce. Muslim women still had half the rights of men.
Later, Nehru and Ambedkar took the lead and introduced the Hindu Code, giving Hindu women the right to succession. Christian women also lived without succession rights for decades. Until Mary Roy won that right from the Supreme Court in 1986. Three and a half decades had passed by then. Muslim women still had half the property rights, and continue to do so today. If there is a change in this, there is no need for a single civil code, it is enough for someone to argue in the Supreme Court with a good lawyer.
A secular system of marriage already exists. Also, with the coming of the law that two people over the age of eighteen can legally live together, marriage changed from a legal issue to a moral issue or ritual. In earlier films, the villains leave the police and arrest the hero and heroine for ‘immoral traffic. Marriage is no longer compulsory for property rights either. Now the judges are saying that if the children of extra-marital relations go to court, a DNA test will be done.
In a recent case in Kerala, the paternity of a child who had an extra-marital affair with a Bihari woman in Dubai was even proven. With DNA as the most reliable paternity test and legal protections for cohabitants, marriage laws have only moral relevance. Morality is different for everyone and the state has nothing to do with it.
Despite this, polygamy and polygamy are no longer considered comforting by the world. In the future, it may be comforting to have three or four people living as a couple with consent. Neither Muslims nor others (mainly tribal communities) seem to have any problem with outlawing polygamy and polygamy at present.
Any court would without much delay equalize succession and outlaw polygamy. Not only will the Muslims not protest much about it, but at least 50 percent of Indian Muslims, ie women, will be quite happy about it. (Being a non-feticide-free community, the proportion of women among Muslims is still 50 percent, and they would be happy anyway, Muslim women are not nuns who do not feel happy if they get double wealth).
With these two judgments coming, Muslims will stop talking about a single civil code, and what if it comes. After that, this ball reaches the court of RSS. And that’s where the problem starts.
Making a single civil code is a smaller version of making a constitution. Visionaries like Ambedkar and Nehru drew inspiration from the British and American constitutions, which were considered the most progressive in the world at the time. Those constitutions have come a long way now. Their civil laws now legalize same-sex marriage.
In the Hindu Code demanded by the RSS, women did not have property rights or divorce rights. Such civil laws do not exist nowadays. No caste and gender discrimination according to human memory is possible in modern times. All the bills to prevent secular marriages passed in various states recently in the name of preventing religious conversion will be nullified when the new civil code comes in.
Most importantly the tax benefits enjoyed by Hindu businessmen, especially Gujarati businessmen in the name of Hindu joint family, will either be abolished or will be available to all. Khap panchayats and adivasi tribes will lose all the protection they get now in the name of preserving their culture and traditions.
Have you ever wondered how the law making the age of marriage 21 was passed? The Muslims did not cause much trouble and the North Indian Hindus protested against the RSS. With that, the matter was decided.
A good percentage of Muslims think that a single civil code will do good for Muslims in practice, and no one is going to protest about it. The RSS does not have the ambition or imagination to enact such complex legislation. Therefore, the single civil code will continue to be an annual controversy like the Gunjan statue for many more decades. Not knowing who wants it or who doesn’t.