DRIVE THREE

Safia: I’m ready. In fact, I can’t wait.

Oni: What for? Home? We ARE on our way.

Safia: For a Uniform Civil Code, Oni! India’s waiting and ready.

Oni: I think all right-thinking people in this country are ready. But it should be the endeavour of those who are going to enact that Uniform Civil Code to try and take everybody with consent.

Safia: And if there are some vested interests who’re going to resist it?

Oni: Well, they must be taken along. But if they’re going to be recalcitrant, they must be left behind!

Safia: Absolutely! Let them be left aside. We want to move on as a country! Let them be left aside, I couldn’t care less.

Oni: True, you’re never going to get an absolute consensus in this country. And it’s part of the constitution.

Safia: Well, not exactly. It’s part of the Directive Principles which clearly mandate that ‘the state shall endeavour to secure to all its citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India.’ But yes, according to the same constitution, it has to be taken as a principle of governance.

Oni: Actually, even the Supreme Court has requested the government to come forward and bring in the UCC. So, really, why do we have to wait much longer? It’s true it isn’t justiciable. At the moment, nobody can go to court and say, “I have a right!” but the fact is that it was discussed in great detail in the Constituent Assembly and it was put into the Directive Principles to be implemented over time. And 70 years, is an alarmingly long time.

Safia: The anti-UCC club says they won’t have one point of view steamrolled on a multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, diverse nation like ours.

Oni: Madam, the object behind Article 44 is to effect an integration of India by bringing all communities on a common platform on matters which are at present, governed by diverse personal laws but which do not form the essence of any religion. For instance, issues such as divorce or maintenance for a divorced wife, et cetera.

Safia: And just as the Supreme Court regrets that Article 44 has so long remained a dead letter, so do we.

Oni: They have repeatedly recommended early legislation to implement it. If Parliament steps in, this will be a major leap forward to help the cause of national integration by removing contradictions based on ideologies. One nation; One law!

Safia: Couldn’t have said it better. Besides, there isn’t and shouldn’t be a necessary connection between religion and personal law in any civilised society.

Oni: If enacted, let me tell you that with time, we will see that every religion based personal law that has been going around in this country, marginalizing women because of religion, will be thrown into the dustbin!

Safia: I think we need to tell anyone who thinks it isn’t possible, that IT IS. For multiple reasons. Number One. It’s a directive principle. Which is part of the constitution. And the constitution is sacrosanct. It is possible because not once or twice but on four previous occasions, the Apex Court has questioned the legislature upon their inability to adopt, enact and give to ourselves this code. Thirdly, why is gender equality not possible? Why can’t we uphold the dignity of women? Why can’t we take the best practices from all religions and get India to move together, in uniformity, in the 21st Century?! What’s so impossible?

 

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