After objections, BJP member withdraws Bill for UCC

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on December 06, 2019

A private member Bill in Rajya Sabha by BJP MP from Rajasthan, Narayan Lal Panchariya, proposing a uniform civil code in the country was withdrawn after objections raised by CPI(M) MP KK Ragesh. Panchariya, however, said he will bring it back to the House after making certain amendments.

The Bill was listed for introduction on November 22, but could not be discussed as Panchariya was absent from the House. But at the stage of introduction, Ragesh raised a point of order and said the Bill is against the basic structure of the Constitution and hence it cannot be taken up even for introduction.

The Bill, titled as Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Insertion of a new Article 14A and omission of Article 44), was meant for providing that “the State shall not discriminate in the matters of personal laws on the ground of religion and also to omit article 44 of the Constitution.” Article 44 says the “State shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.”

‘Against secularism’

Ragesh said as per the present position, basic structure of our Constitution cannot be amended. “Secularism is the basic structure of our Constitution. This Bill is against secularism and hence, against the basic structure of our Constitution,” he said in the House. Deputy Chairman Harivansh assured Ragesh that he will come back on this and the Bill was not taken up because of the absence of Panchariya.

On Friday, Harivansh gave his ruling on the point of order and said there was no motion before on November 22 because of Panchariya’s absence.

“As per well established convention of the House, which has been reiterated time and again by various Presiding Officers through their rulings, the Chair has never taken upon himself the responsibility of deciding whether a Bill is Constitutional or ultra vires. It is for the House to take a decision in the matter by voting either in favour of or rejecting the introduction of the Bill. In the instant case, Ragesh objected to the introduction of the Bill before a formal motion to introduce the Bill was moved in the House. As there was no formal motion before the House, the objection of Ragesh was found to be premature and, therefore, infructuous. There does not seem to be any necessity, therefore, for going into the merits of his objection. However, I have been informed that Panchariya has now withdrawn his Bill,” Harivansh said.

Personal laws and women

Panchariya told BusinessLine that he will amend the Bill and table it again. The statement of objects and reasons of his Bill, which was withdrawn, said a uniform civil code will bring parity to women as far as rights under personal laws are concerned. “Historically, we have seen that all religions — minority or majority — have been unfair to women while conferring rights under personal laws,” it said.

Ragesh said the attempt was to implement the Hindutva version of uniform civil code through a private member’s Bill. “That should not be allowed. All such attempts to change the basic structure of Constitution will be questioned,” he said.

Published on December 06, 2019

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