It was November 23, 1948, when the Indian Constitution saw the inclusion of Article 44. The article that even in 2019 India has been unable to implement.
Basically it pertains to Uniform Civil Code that demands all Indians be governed by the same set of laws. Now, after contentious issues like Article 370 being addressed through policy decisions and Ayodhya title dispute settled through judicial pronouncement, an organization that goes by the name of Bharatiya Matdata Sangathan has rekindled the demand for a Uniform Civil Code.
The organization, which is headed by Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay will hold a seminar on November 23 this year, whose core agenda remains “Universal Civil Code for all Indians”.
Though BJP is not part of this event in any which way the list of attendees show top ministers of the Modi government. The event that will take place in New Delhi’s Constitution Club on November 23, will be attended by Union Minister for Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh, Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways Gen. V.K. Singh, BJP MP Satyapal Singh, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari and BJP Rajya Sabha MP K.J. Alphons.
A BJP spokesman who refused to be quoted on this issue insisted all the BJP members who are attending the event are doing so in their private capacity and no formal approval was sought from the party from the event organizers. Thus, distancing itself from the event. But it’s not just a volley of top BJP leaders who are attending the event but also senior RSS functionary Indresh Kumar, who will be attending a session between 1 and 2 PM.
Also, a host of legal luminaries like former Supreme Court judge P.C. Pant, former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, former Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, Justice Z.U. Khan who is a former judge of the Allahabad High Court will also be in attendance.
But why now issuch an event being organized? You ask the question and pat comes the answer, “Why not?” Ashwini Upadhyay says, “There are a lot of misconceptions that is being spread about Uniform Civil Code by vested interests in this country. Even the Constitution makers wanted this but it could not be done. Now, it’s high time we should discuss, debate and find a way to implement UCC so the entire nation is governed by not just similar criminal laws but similar civil laws as well”.
Even Upadhyay accepts its a non-political endeavour to bring the contentious issue in the public discourse. But the fact remains of the top three poll promises of the ruling party is hard to ignore.
When the Constitution was made, it couldn’t be implemented due to objections from certain religious groups citing a violation of religious freedom. But the founding fathers of the constitution stated UCC should replace distinct personal laws. As late as September this year, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose observed that India did not try to secure a Uniform Civil Code for its citizens.
The court said, though the Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country.
High on symbolism, the demand for Uniform Civil Code, however private endeavour it may be, is sure to have political resonance.