The government’s recent arguments in the Supreme court against the practice of triple talaq and polygamy under Sharia law are likely to figure prominently in the Law Commission’s report on having uniform civil laws for all Indians irrespective of their faith or personal law, informed sources have said.
Last week, in a 29-page affidavit to the SC, the Centre said the practice of triple talaq and polygamy is unreasonable, discriminatory and denies gender justice enshrined in the Constitution. “We are studying the government’s response closely,” a member said.
The commission last week had a full-strength meeting on issues pending before it, including a reference from the government in June asking the commission to explore whether the time is ripe for enforcing common civil laws.
“Law commission reports are read and referred in courts, they cannot be prepared in a hurry,” Law Commission chairman Justice (retired) Balbir Singh Chauhan said.
“We will wait for the Supreme Court’s judgement on Triple Talaq and maintenance before completing our report,” he added. The commission has time until August 2018 to submit reports on matters pending before it.
Currently, criminal laws in India are applied uniformly but different personal laws govern different communities in matters such as marriage, divorce and transfer of property.
The ruling BJP has long argued for a uniform civil code.
“The Supreme Court itself has said in the past that the time has come for uniform civil laws. The commission is involved in an academic exercise, studying the constitution and seeing if these practices are in consonance with it,” the member said. The commission is studying previous judgements.
There are at least three judgements delivered between 1985 and 2003 in which different benches of SC have asked the government or Parliament to step in to provide uniform personal law for all Indians.
The commission has begun a 45-day exercise of seeking comments from the public and stakeholders on the matter. After the suggestions are received, they will be discussed within in the commission and experts.