Firoz Bakht Ahmed, Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad has moved to the Apex Court seeking a direction to the Central government to form a high-level expert committee or a judicial commission to prepare a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) draft for securing gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women.
The petitioner has also sought the transfer of his PIL from Delhi High Court to the Supreme Court to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and for an authoritative pronouncement as the issue is of general importance. Mr Firoz Bakht Ahmed is the grandnephew of India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
The petition argues that the UCC administers the same set of secular civil laws that are applicable to all religious communities in matter such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption and supersedes the right of citizens to be governed under different personal laws based on their religion or ethnicity.
“The need for Uniform Civil Code has been felt for more than a century. The country has already suffered a lot in the absence of a uniform code for all. It is rather a pity that the longest and most elaborately written constitution in the history of mankind, the Indian Constitution is responsible for creation of erosion in society. The society has been fragmented in the name of religions, sects and sex. Even at present, in India, there are different laws governing rights related to personal matters or laws like marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance for different communities.”
Bakht in his petition added that the UCC would ensure equality as the multiple castes and creeds and their set of beliefs are confusing and the absence of UCC is responsible for the poor condition of women of almost every religion.
He further quoted B.R. Ambedkar, who drafted the Indian Constitution, and said that UCC was incorporated into Constitution as a “desirable” move, but for the moment “voluntary”.
The petition stated that the UCC will work to simplify the laws and will be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their religion, caste, creed etc.
“UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity. The code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat Law and other laws. The same civil law will then be applicable to all the citizens irrespective of their faith.”
The UCC debate has been going on in the country since the year 1985 after the Supreme Court of India in its verdict of Shah Bano vs Mohammad Ahmed Khan Case, announced maintenance to the Muslim woman after divorce.