Kerala High Court judge Kamal Pasha has urged Muslim organizations in the country to rethink their opposition to having a uniform civil code, or the same law for all citizens irrespective of their religion.
Pasha, speaking at a conference organized by Justicia – a lawyers’ association, said Muslims must rethink the benefits of sticking with the current ‘Mohammedan’ law code compiled by the British.
“We have to start asking whether this perception that a uniform civil code will be the end of the Muslim community in India is correct or not,” Pasha, a Muslim himself, said in Calicut.
India has separate laws for its citizens, depending on which religion they profess. For example, inheritance, divorce and marriage are all governed by different laws for different citizens, depending on whether they are Hindu, Christian or Muslim. Some practices that can invite a jail term in certain cases, such as polygamy for Hindus, are not punishable for people belonging to other communities.
The system, created by the British, has not been changed largely due to the opposition of Muslim organizations in the country. A uniform civil code is part of the long-term goals enshrined in the Indian constitution, and is one of its ‘directive principles’.
Justice Pasha said the emphasis should be to find out the best laws from all the different codes and compile them into a single code that can be applied to everyone.
“Why doesn’t the Muslim community think – we have a lot of good laws, why don’t we share them with other communities?” he asked the meeting, which was also attended by many Islamic leaders.
Pasha pointed out that the current Muslim personal law is based on the compilation called ‘Mohammedan Law’, which was created by M Mulla, who was a Parsi who lived during British times.
“The community should rethink whether all provisions in this code are to be considered sacrosanct,” Pasha added.