Uniform Civil Code: College patronised by Catholic bishops launches competition to study subject

February 19, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, February 19, 2017: In a major step towards building consensus around the proposed Uniform Civil Code, a law college patronised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has launched a competition in which law students across the country will research the subject and the best report will go to the President and Prime Minister.

The development comes close on the heels of a Law Commission questionnaire seeking public opinion on the bid to formulate common rules on issues such as marriage, divorce and property rights for all religions in India received 40,000 responses.

Analysts point out that while the All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) is not ready to debate the code and even rejected the law panel’s survey, terming it an “affront” to their personal laws, the CBCI has come out in support on the condition that the legislation must confirm the “spirit and mandate” of the Constitution.

The AIMPLB had even accused the Law Commission of behaving like an agent of the Modi government, arguing that the proposed UCC – promised by the BJP in its poll manifesto ahead of the 2014 general elections – is a threat to the country’s pluralism and diversity.

“This competition I hope will result in making a meaningful contribution towards the drafting of Uniform Civil Code on the basis of objective academic research findings true to the spirit and mandates of the Constitution”, said Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, president of the CBCI and National United Christian Forum. He is also a member of the National Integration Council chaired by the PM.

The competition is being organised by Mar Gregorios College of Law from Thiruvananthapuram, of which Cleemis is the patron, in association with Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training.

The CBCI’s stand is that the unity of India should be impeccably safeguarded. All discussions on the UCC must be done taking into account the diversity and freedom ensured by the Constitution and without hurting sentiments of various religious groups.

“It will be a great learning process for the students and a big contribution towards evolution of the Uniform Civil Code,” Dr NR Madhava Menon, noted legal educator and founder of several prestigious law colleges including MILAT, told Mail Today.

“They will produce a draft incorporating the views of different communities by including constitutional values of secularism. Only if a draft is in public domain can people understand what UCC is about and whether it is acceptable or not,” he added.

The contest comes at a time when the law panel is perusing more than 40,000 responses to its questionnaire. It was issued after the law ministry on July 2 last year asked it to examine in detail all issues pertaining to the code and submit a report.

Article 44 of the Constitution says implementation of the UCC is the duty of the state. At present, laws governing inheritance or divorce among Hindus are different from those pertaining to Muslims or Christians and so on.

The organisers said duration of the competition for law students is of eight months from February 15 to September 30, and registration is open to law colleges and universities that are to form a team comprising 20 students.

The teams will select any one aspect of the proposed UCC like marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, custody and guardianship, inheritance or succession for study, research and reform.

They have to then study in-depth the existing law on the selected subject in different personal laws as codified in legislation or expounded in authoritative texts and their judicial interpretations.

For this, the teams may prepare codified versions of existing law among different religions separately for reference and also identify any areas of conflict.

– india today

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