Explained: Civil code and govt stance | Explained News,The Indian Express

Previous regimes were reluctant to interfere with personal laws. Of late, govt has been underlining the need for wider consultations, and what Article 44 says on UCC. Replies in Parliament reflect the evolving stance.

The government’s stance on a uniform civil code (UCC) has evolved from one regime to the next, especially in the last eight years. This was reflected in the recent stand of the Ministry of Law and Justice, which is learnt to have conveyed to a parliamentary committee that review of personal laws — as in Goa where a 155-year-old Portuguese-era law is still in force — can be undertaken when a “sizeable majority” of the population seek amendment of the existing laws or a new law is enacted (The Indian Express, July 31).

The shift in stance can be seen in the government’s written replies in Parliament since 1991. Previous regimes would underline a “consistent policy” — “not to interfere in the personal laws of the minority community”. This later evolved to “wide stakeholder consultation would be required” and then to “committed to honour” the constitutional mandate enshrined in the Article 44 of the Constitution.

From over two dozen occasions in the last 31 years, a look at the government’s replies to questions raised by at least 58 MPs (including half from the BJP; 9 from Congress; 7 from Shiv Sena; 2 each from Trinamool Congress, BJD, CPI, AIADMK and TDP; 1 each from BSP, CPM and IUML; and an independent):

1991-04: ‘No interference’

On July 19, 1991, the late P R Kumaramangalam of the Congress, Law Minister in the P V Narashimha Rao government, said in reply to a question from Shiv Sena’s Ashok Deshmukh: “Introduction of Uniform Civil Code for all citizens will necessarily involve changes in the personal laws of minority communities. The consistent policy of the Government has been not to interfere on its own in the personal laws of the minority communities unless initiative for the change comes from such communities.”


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