Friday, October 14, 2016

Don't link triple talaq to Uniform Civil Code: Venkaiah Naidu to Muslim board

NEW DELHI: A day after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board+ called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "dictatorial", Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu ripped into the Board asking why it was dragging the PM into the Uniform Civil Code issue.

Calling for an "enlightened debate" on Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the "real mood" of the country was to end triple talaq and some people were trying to create confusion over the two issues.

"You (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) join the debate. Let there be enlightened debate you put forth your point of view. Let a consensus be evolved. Why are you trying to bring in the name of Prime Minister and call him dictator," Naidu told reporters.

The Muslim Personal Law Board (MLPB) yesterday said it will 'boycott' a Law Commission questionnaire on religious practices detrimental to women. It called the questionnaire - that seeks public opinion on backward religious practices - a 'fraud' and accused it of acting at the behest of the Centre. The Board also said the UCC "is not a good idea" for India.

Naidu said some people were confusing the issue of triple talaq with Uniform Civil Code. "The real mood of the country is that people want this triple talaq to end. People do not want any discrimination on basis of any religious faith agianst women. As I told you the issues are gender justice, non-discrimination and dignity of women," he said.

Criticising AIMPLB, Naidu even said, "If you are so interested in making political comments you can as well join any political party of your choice. This is not expected from Muslim Personal Law Board and other religious leaders.

"You have to confine yourself to the issue and the issue is put forth for discussion by the law commission," he added.

The threat of Muslim organisations to boycott the law commission process also comes in the context of the Supreme Court hearing a challenge to triple talaq. At that hearing, the Centre came out clearly against the practice+ and called it "unconstitutional and violative of gender equality".

Accusing the government of waging "a war" against the Muslim community and contending that the UCC, if implemented, will threaten the country's pluralism, MLPB and other Muslim organizations said they will start a campaign to call a halt to the Law Commission's exercise.

Like Naidu, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also said earlier the Law Commission+ move is an "academic exercise" and that a UCC will need Parliament's approval. Jaitley said personal laws of all religions should be "compliant" with individual rights granted by the Constitution. He added that Hindu and Christian personal laws have also been amended in the past.

"The triple talaq case is not connected to the UCC. Religious practice can apply to rituals of death, birth and marriage. But there should not be discrimination between male and female with regard to inheritance and divorce. The right to human dignity must be protected. Personal laws must be compliant with the Constitution," Jaitley had said.

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