UCC Agenda: What Advocates Of 'Legal Pluralism' Are Unwilling To Accept

Arshia Malik

Jul 22, 2023, 06:15 PM | Updated 06:15 PM IST

Muslim women at an event to celebrate the passing of the triple talaq bill by the Lok Sabha in New Delhi earlier. (Representative Image) (Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 
Muslim women at an event to celebrate the passing of the triple talaq bill by the Lok Sabha in New Delhi earlier. (Representative Image) (Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 
  • Legal pluralists may not be willing to fully embrace the implementation of Shariat law in matters relating to criminal justice, democracy, and social equality.
  • The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 is a four-page document that declares it will govern Muslims in India.

    It was used to form Muslim Personal Laws after independence, dealing with various aspects of personal law, including marriage, succession, inheritance, and charities among Muslims.

    This Act was enacted by the British government in India in 1937 and simply states that in suits regarding inheritance, succession, marriage, and religious usages or institutions, the laws of the Quran with respect to Muslims (Sharia laws) and the laws of the Shastras with respect to Hindus shall be adhered to.

    The act also recognises the right of Shia Muslims to their own law.

    There is no welfare objective of the Shariat Act 1937.

    It is important to note that Sharia law is not a legal system in itself but is the overall way of life of Islam, as people understand it according to traditional, early interpretations.

    Muslim scholars interpret and apply Sharia law in various ways, and the exact nature of this interpretation depends on the specific context and the school of thought.

    Sharia law encompasses legal as well as moral and ethical directives and regulates personal religious practices as well as issues such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. However, there is no one thing called Sharia, and its interpretation varies across Muslim communities.

    Sharia can evolve with Islamic societies to address their needs today. While some critics argue that Sharia law is impractical, intolerant, and promotes cruel punishments, others argue that it is a flexible and nuanced legal system that can evolve with Islamic societies to address their needs today.

    Some critics argue that Islamist leaders are often ignorant of Islamic law, and the implementation of Sharia is impractical.

    They claim that the Islamist definition of Sharia is in error and that flexible solutions have been ignored.

    Legal scholar Sadakat Kadri complains that there is no single universal Sharia, and its proponents do not agree on one.

    Some critics argue that Muslim states that follow Sharia are particularly intolerant of nonbelievers or those who practice other religions. Western critics say most Muslim personal law limits women's rights and introduces inequality before the law.

    Some countries that follow Sharia law have laws that call for what critics say are cruel criminal punishments. The Taliban, for example, have a strict interpretation of Sharia, including punishments such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers.

    Critics argue that some interpretations of Sharia are too rigid and do not take into account modern legal regimes in predominantly secular countries.

    Sharia's teachings relating to criminal justice, democracy, and social equality are controversial and have been criticised for being harsh and discriminatory.

    Mercifully, criminal law is the same for all citizens of India. In his opinion piece titled "Question for UCC Critics: Why Don't You Want Sharia Law for Muslim Criminals?" published in The Print, author Ibn Khaldun Bharati says Muslim Personal Law is a substitute for separate electorate, hindering the implementation of Uniform Civil Code.

    The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act 1937, with its intrinsic gender bias, is violative of Article 15 of the Constitution, which forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, gender, or place of birth.

    He questions the sincerity of advocates of legal pluralism who argue for the coexistence of multiple legal systems within a society.

    Why do these advocates not push for the implementation of Sharia law in criminal matters for Muslim convicts if they truly believe in legal pluralism? If legal pluralism is truly about respecting different legal systems, then Sharia law should be included as an option for Muslim convicts.

    In a hypothetical scenario of an adulterous Muslim being stoned to death under Sharia law, would these advocates of legal pluralism agree to such a punishment?

    Therein lies the potential clash between different legal systems and the need for careful consideration and negotiation when implementing legal pluralism.

    These advocates of legal pluralism may not fully understand the implications of their argument or may not be willing to fully embrace the coexistence of different legal systems.

    A welfarist objective focuses on promoting the well-being and welfare of individuals or society as a whole. It prioritises overall happiness and quality of life and is often associated with the utilitarian philosophy.

    Welfarist objectives in public policy aim to maximise social welfare, address poverty, provide healthcare and education, ensure social safety nets, protect rights, promote equality, and create opportunities for social mobility.

    The approach considers the consequences and impacts on people's lives, seeking to improve their overall welfare and quality of life.

    The implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) should keep this objective in mind when dilly-dallying, under Muslim pressure groups, Muslim politicians with nefarious agendas and activist agenda groups. 

    Arshia Malik is a columnist and commentator on social issues with particular emphasis on Islam in the Indian subcontinent.

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