HT G20 Agenda: Not faith, UCC is about rights of women, says JNU VC | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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HT G20 Agenda: Not faith, UCC is about rights of women, says JNU VC

ByAman Singh
Jul 18, 2023 12:30 AM IST

The issue has become a political talking point after the Law Commission recently asked for public comments and that of stakeholders and various religious bodies

NEW DELHI During a panel discussion on “Women-led development” at HT’s event on India’s G20 agenda, JNU vice-chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit supported the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and its “feminist nature” and “consistency with religious freedom”.

Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit Vice Chancellor Jawaharlal Nehru University (HT Photo)
Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit Vice Chancellor Jawaharlal Nehru University (HT Photo)

The issue has become a political talking point after the Law Commission recently asked for public comments and that of stakeholders and various religious bodies.

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Apart from Pandit, the all-women panel had former chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court Justice Gita Mittal, senior advocate Madhavi Divan and UN Women Representative for India Susan Ferguson.

Responding to a question about the policies needed for women’s development, the JNU VC said, “The resistance to the UCC. I don’t think UCC has anything to do with religion. It has to do with women’s rights. And all religions come in danger as soon as women ask for their rights. I see the UCC as a typical aspect of misogyny,” she said. The vice-chancellor also complimented the PM as “the first feminist leader” as he doesn’t fear strong women.

Agreeing with the JNU VC, Divan said, “Triple talaq was a very momentous decision, and it was a huge shake-up of the status quo, but it was the tip of the iceberg. So, you have other forms of talaq, you have polygamy, and all of these are practices which are deeply egregious to women’s rights. There are other Hindu customs, belonging to other communities – all of that needs some change.”

She added, “The UCC as I see it because there is a lot of debate right now. The two arguments which are really used to oppose it are – it will erase diversity in India, and it is in the teeth of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution. I think both arguments are incorrect. Because so far as diversity is concerned, it’s about understanding the Constitution. I am able to see that harmonious thinking which is between the freedom of religion and Article 44 which is the endeavour for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).”

Calling it a feminist agenda, Divan said that the UCC is really intended to achieve that common denominator of rights. “You may belong to any community. You may practise your religious rituals. We have to be on a level playing field as women in particular. So, I think UCC as a feminist agenda more than anything else,” she told the panel.

“Shah Bano may not have happened at all, had we got a UCC in time… Similarly, Shayara Bano need not have gone to court at all, had we had a UCC. A stitch in time may have saved nine,” the advocate pointed out.

On the argument of inconsistency with religion, Divan contested that so far, the right to religion is caveated with the obligation to embrace reform according to the Constitution. “There is nothing inconsistent between having a Uniform Civil Code, of course, it has to be drawn with a great deal of sensitivity and skill. Having said that, there is nothing inherently inconsistent between the two,” she concluded.

The panel also discussed other issues like women’s representation in the legal arena, academia, politics, and others.

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