An eight-member group was formed to advise Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), felt that while there was scope for reforming personal laws, uniformity in the personal laws of different communities was not necessary.
On 15 July, members of this group held a closed-door meeting at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters where the overwhelming sentiment was to reject “uniformity that does not respect India’s diversity”.
Sources said the eight-member team includes eminent lawyers P Chidambaram, Abhishek Singhvi, Salman Khurshid, Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and KTS Tusli. Other members include Odisha Lok Sabha member and a tribal leader Saptagiri Ulaka and Rajya Sabha member, L Hanumanthaiah, who hails from a Scheduled Caste (SC).
So far, Congress has said it will wait for a draft of the proposed UCC before taking a formal position.
Opinion India needs Uniform Civil Code
“Although nothing has been finalized yet and we will wait for a draft but most of us felt that there is no need for a UCC at this stage. In 2018, the 21st Law Commission said in its report that the UCC was neither advisable nor feasible,” said a member of the advisory group.
“There can be a case for reforming the personal laws of various communities and this can be done after consultation with the stakeholders and the communities concerned,” he added.
The Congress chief created the advisory group after Prime Minister Narendra Modi – at a meeting of BJP workers in Bhopal last month – made a strong pitch for the Uniform Civil Code.
The prime minister’s push comes just days after the 22nd Law Commission, headed by Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, began the public consultation process in mid-June.
Seeking views and feedback from the public and organizations, the law panel set July 15 as the deadline for public consultation. However, the law panel has now extended the deadline to July 28.
With the monsoon session of Parliament scheduled to begin on July 20 and end on August 11, the government will not be able to legislate in the upcoming session.
“Government may think it is about a community but it is not. Tribals have their own customary laws and the BJP’s former ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, has argued strongly why the UCC is not needed,” said another leader.