Tufail Ahmad, a leading Muslim scholar on Wednesday proposed a draft Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to initiate a public debate on it.
A former journalist with BBC World Service and author of Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim, Ahmad has called it a “working draft for public consultation.
“A uniform civil code was desired by the framers of the Constitution to ensure that basic fundamental rights of citizens, irrespective of their religious and other identities, are protected within a larger human rights framework,” he said in a statement.
“This UCC is drafted within a broader context of a Universal Bill of Rights for the Indian citizen (Ubric). This draft UCC is the first-ever attempt to bring specific issues before the public for a wider discussion,” he added.
The 12-clause document is a working draft to be improved through wider public consultation.
“At present, no draft UCC exists that could enlighten the people of India regarding the specifics that will constitute such a code,” Ahmad explained of his venture.
“It is necessary to emphasize that the word ‘uniform’ in the uniform civil code is not meant to homogenise the lifestyles and identities of Indian citizens but to ensure that certain fundamental rights to equality and liberty are protected for them by the Indian state.”
Ahmad also questioned political parties and civil society who have failed to make any attempt towards advocating UCC and said: “No attempt has been made by the Indian government to draft a Uniform Civil Code for fear that political parties could lose Muslim votes.”
“Even civil society organisations and human rights activists have shied away from advocating a UCC for Indian citizens. This is a result of the prevailing erroneous belief that the uniform civil code is meant to curb personal laws, especially only of Muslims.”
The Law Commission had, on October 7, floated a 16-point questionnaire on its website asking the common people, activists, organisations and other stakeholders to give suggestions on the implementation of the UCC.
The Commission has extended the period for submission of replies to December 21.