Uniform Civil Code Not Possible, Personal Laws Can Not be Scrapped: Law Commission Chairman

New Delhi, Dec 5: Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan said the Uniform Civil Code is difficult to implement, hence the commission is now planning to suggest religion-wise amendments in family laws. Speaking to a news channel, Justice Chauhan said the Constitution protects personal laws and it can never be done away with. The Uniform Civil Code could disturb the essence of the Constitution, he said. The commission was asked by the Law Ministry in June 2016 to examine whether a Uniform Civil Code could be introduced in India.

Instead of the Uniform Civil Code, the 21st Law Commission is now planning to suggest specific amendments to several personal law legislations. The idea of Uniform Civil Code gained momentum after the Supreme Court ruled against the practice of triple talaq. However, Justice Chauhan said, “Personal Laws can never be done away with as they have constitutional protection.” He further said the commission was not considering Uniform Civil Code as an option.

“Uniform Civil Code is not possible. We will try to recommend religion-wise amendments in family laws. It would be the piecemeal way to suggest what are the changes required in Hindu law, Muslim law, Christian law, Parsi law, etc. We will target the problems of each religion and deal with them accordingly. We cannot take the whole Uniform Civil Code, as we cannot go outside the constitution,” the Law Commission chairman was quoted as saying.

Justice Chauhan said the Constitution guarantees several exemptions to different sections of the society and Personal Laws cannot be struck down. “Constitution itself has given so many exemptions to so many people like the tribals, etc. There are exemptions even in Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code… UCC is not a solution and there cannot be a composite Act. You cannot say forget the Constitution and do away with the sixth schedule. This would make people question their accession to the Indian Union on the understanding that they will be respected,” he told the channel.

Speaking on triple talaq issue, the Law Commission chairman said they don’t need to intervene in aspects where the court has already issued a verdict. He further said the commission received over 50,000 responses on the feasibility and various aspects of the Uniform Civil Code. “But now, after going through the responses, we have realised that most of them were with regard to triple talaq. Now that matter has been settled by the SC, it’s of no use to us anymore,” said Justice Chauhan.

The former Supreme Court judge also rejected media reports that the draft of the Uniform Civil Code would be available by early next year. “The deadline for the UCC is my own tenure and that is August 30, 2018. It is not a thing that can be prepared in a half-baked manner. If not a composite legislation for everyone, at least specific amendments can be made,” he was quoted as saying.

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