JD(U) refuses to give opinion on Uniform Civil Code

Patna: Echoing views expressed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), his party JD(U) too refused to give its opinion on the issue today, insisting its enforcement in the absence of a consensus will create “social discord”.

The party suggested that consensus be first arrived at on the issue through debate in Parliament, state assemblies and other fora.

Kumar, who is also JD(U) national president, shot off a letter to the Law Commission’s chairman Justice B S Chauhan and the Centre apprising them of the party’s views.

Suggesting that the Commission should not act in haste to implement the UCC, Kumar said in the letter: “In any case, imposition of UCC without forming consensus among the various religious groups, especially the minorities, will create a situation of social discord and lead to erosion of faith in the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.”

Favouring a debate among all stakeholders before implementing UCC, he said, “It is desirable that the whole idea of scrapping various personal laws and replacing the same with a UCC is first put to debate in detail in Parliament as well as legislative assemblies of states and other forums in the civil society before the Centre thinks of going ahead with formulation of UCC.”.

The state government had formally written to the Law Commission in this regard after getting the state cabinet’s nod on January 10.

Kumar had on January 24 last had launched a scathing attack on the Centre for the question-answer format in which the Commission sought the state government’s reply on “leading questions” that involved discussion.

Echoing him, JD(U) too expressed its inability to reply to the Commission’s questionnaire, which it said was framed in “a particular manner to seek specific reply”.

“It seems that the questions have been framed in such a manner so as to force the respondent to reply in a specific way. These are leading questions with limited number of choices given as probable answers and thus denying the respondent enough scope to frame his own independent replies,” the party’s letter said.

Noting that the country has a pluralistic society with long-standing religious practices, it said various community laws and specific community-based concepts meant to deal with personal matters like marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, succession, right to property and adoption have to be scrapped before UCC is brought in.

“No consultation with all stakeholders including state government has been done at all about the feasibility to repeal all such various laws before the concept of UCC is implemented. The prevailing environment in the country hardly seems to be ready for that,” Kumar wrote.