Recently there was a lot of hullabaloo about common civil code. When I tried to find out what is meant by C3… I was told it meant the laws must be applied uniformly to all without discriminating people based on religion, sex or caste. I was surprised to hear this. I remember reading in our civics books that everybody is the same in the eyes of the law and everybody is treated equally.
Does the non existence of C3 in India mean we are not equal in front of law? Does the court have different rules for men and women? Hindu and Muslim? Goan and Karnataki? Suddenly I began to feel that I am living in an barbaric nation. I decided to jump deeper into the matter and tried to find out whether law differentiates between Hindu and Muslim or Men and Women. If it does then how come we kept quite for so long? I asked my friends and parents who too thought that everybody is treated equally in front of law.
However my study in this matter resulted into discovery of stunning facts. I also learnt that in Goa Portuguese Civil Code applies so we all are equal in front of law. I thanked those rascals for the first time. I tried to discover what existed in rest of India and it was shocking.
Indian Constitution has Civil Code and Criminal Code. To my knowledge the latter is common for all but Civil code is different for different religions and regions. When I say region it is applicable only to Jammu and Kashmir. Based on religion the law differentiates between Hindu, Muslim and Christians. All other religions that originated in India are included under Hindu religion.
Civil code includes laws related to Marriage, Inheritance etc. I think our political parties are really shameless to call our nation secular when such descrimination exists in the law itself. Not that laws are different for different religions but they are highly unjust on any grounds. Let us study all these laws in this blog one by one. Let us start from Hindu Undivided Family law which states that HUF can be considered as a separate entity in a Family. That means the total income of the family can be divided in one extra member to lower their taxes. It is difficult to understand why such a code exists. Today if husband and wife stay together it is referred as undivided family. The big families like in Ekta Kapoor’s serials are virtually non existant in most of the parts and even if they exist the law has little to offer them. The law is more useful to the divided families which can declare themselves as undivided to lower taxes.
When it comes to hindu marriage act men and women are treated equally. A man can dissolve his marriage on certain grounds and the wife too can do the same on the same grounds. The law is an improved version of british law passed 130 years however that law in britain was replaced 30 years back but not in India.
Hindu inhertance act gives the owner of the wealth the power to dispose it off the way he likes in his will provided that wealth was not inherited by him from someone else.
Hindu laws to a very large extent can be considered as rational and the best part is the equality of men and women. However the marriage act is not so modern. If a couple decided to end the marriage with mutual understanding (now if that exists why would they divorce? jokes apart) they can’t do so. They have to cite the reasons and prove them as well.
Let us see the Muslim laws. If a muslim wishes to be governed by the law of ‘Shariat’ he can file an affidavit which will allow him to be governed by Muslim Personal Law act (1937) note the year. The law passed long before independence. Proponents of this law went to Pakistan after independence. Funniest part is that this law was opposed by most of the muslim provinces of that time except Bihar and UP. The Punjab, Malabaar all had shown their dissapointment over this act. The act saw an major amendment after 2 year of its passing which damaged the image of Shariat as Sacrosanct. It is worth another blog.
According to Dissolution of Muslim Marriages act 1939 a muslim man can keep upto 4 wives which is not allowed for any other religion. Muslim man can dissolve the marriage with any of his wifes on any grounds or without citing any grounds. In short he need not prove his allegations at all in court. The act in 1937 too gave this freedom to the muslim man but the 1939 act now permitted even muslim woman a right to initiate divorce in court. But in such a case she must cite on whjat grounds she needs dissolution and she must prove it as well. It is not enough for her to prove adultry by husband but she must prove either of incesuous adultry, adultry coupled with cruelity,adultry coupled with desertion for 2 or more years.
The 1937 act did not allow women to inititate divorce at all but it had an article that ‘If a person renounces Islam his marriage is dissolved immediatly.’ So deprived wives started renouncing Islam to end off their marriages. So article was amended to make it apply only to men and in case a women renounces Islam she is to be put in jail till she reverts back to Islam.
Under Muslim law a person does not have a right to address his will to all his property he can address only 1/3rd of his property in his will. Remaining is divided among his relatives.
To see the chrisitian side, the Christian marriage act is 120 years old based on British law which was scrapped 30 years back (1973).
Except Janata Dal and BJP (who now has scrapped it) no political party raised any question on these laws. Any changes to these laws or application of a C3 will endanger the religions especially the minorities it seems. We live in a secular society our secular parties tell us that.
I dont think this is secular. Untill and unless we live in a nation where everyone has equal laws we cannot call ourself progressive. We imitate US and Britain for small small things. However our political front lacks the courage to give national interests a higher priority.
There is one more irony. Our constitution gives us the freedom to choose any faith, it also allows us to marry any person of our choice provided that person in unmarried and is of opposite sex. However if you want to marry a person with different religion either you or that other person should change his religion. Now that essentially violates either of the rights stated above.
While knowing more about C3 I also came across one fact (?) about our laws. Indian laws do not permit sex between even husband and wife. The whole concept of sex is considered to be unethical, so if wife complains in Police that her husband had loved her he can be sent to prison. Now that just confirms the saying ‘Law is an ass’ .