UCC may pose threat to tribal identity: Chhattisgarh outfit
CSAS is in touch with tribal groups in other states of central India so that they can collectively raise their voice against any such law that is a threat to their customs and traditions, Netam said
The central government should not act in haste to implement a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as it could threaten the identity and traditional practices of tribespeople who follow customary rules to govern their society, the Chhattisgarh Sarva Adivasi Samaj (CSAS) said on Tuesday.
The tribal organisation is not opposed to a uniform code but the Centre should take everyone into confidence before bringing it forth, former Union minister and CSAS president Arvind Netam told a media briefing in Raipur.
Last week, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel also questioned UCC and said tribal culture will be destroyed by the move.
UCC may affect the tribal society’s specific customs and traditions that have existed for centuries, resulting in a threat to the identity and existence of these communities, Netam said. “It seems impractical to implement UCC in a tribal society. The Law Commission of India has invited suggestions for UCC in the country and tribal communities of Chhattisgarh have submitted their opinions keeping in view their customary rules,” he added.
“The tribal community is governed by its customary laws in matters of birth, divorce, partition, succession, inheritance, land and property, and this is its identity, which is different from the rest of the castes, communities and religions,” he said.
On Monday, the head of the parliamentary panel on personnel, public grievances and law and justice — Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sushil Kumar Modi — made a pitch for keeping tribal communities and the northeastern states out of the ambit of any proposed UCC.
Citing examples, Netam said that in a tribal society, women have the freedom to marry multiple times after leaving the husband and don’t have the right to ancestral land.
The customary practices of tribals have the force of law under Article 13(3)(a) of the Constitution. Tribespeople enjoy multiple rights under the fifth and sixth schedule of the Constitution and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, he said.
CSAS is in touch with tribal groups in other states of central India so that they can collectively raise their voice against any such law that is a threat to their customs and traditions, Netam said.
Last week, Baghel also asked what would happen to the culture and traditions of tribals if UCC was implemented. “In Chhattisgarh, we have tribal people. What will happen to their belief and rules through which they govern their society? If UCC is implemented, what will happen to the tribal traditions and customs?” Baghel had asked.
In Jharakhand, tribal groups are joining hands to oppose the UCC, with rights activists among the community alleging that the UCC would be “detrimental to the customary laws” that guide various facets of their social life and family life including marriage, divorce, inheritance of property etc.
Besides preparing to officially register their protest in writing before the 22nd law commission, tribal groups have called for a sit-in protest outside Raj Bhawan in Ranchi against UCC under the banner of Adivasi Samanway Samiti.
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