Imphal: The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex Naga body in the northeastern region, has strongly criticized the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India and its ‘implementation’ for all citizens throughout the territory of India.
In simple terms, the UCC aims to establish a common law for all citizens, irrespective of religion.
It would cover personal laws related to inheritance, adoption, and succession.
The implementation of this code has been part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifestos.
The Naga Women’s Union (NWU) and the Poumai Naga Union (PNU) have also voiced their strong opposition to the central government’s proposal.
In a letter addressed to the Chairperson of the Law Commission of India, through the Deputy Commissioner of Senapati district, Manipur, Ng Lorho, President of UNC, and Vareiyo Shatsang, General Secretary of UNC, stated that the introduction of a common Civil Code or common law for every citizen, regardless of religion and caste, poses a constitutional hurdle.
They argued that Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to practice and propagate any religion, conflicts with the principles of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Currently, personal laws governing various communities are based on their respective religious texts.
As a result, individuals belonging to different religions are subject to different laws governing their marriages, divorces, inheritances, and other family-related matters.
In the tribal areas of the Northeast, customary practices, including landholding systems, laws of property inheritance, marriages, divorces, successions, and adoptions, are governed by tribal customary practices.
Therefore, the letter suggests that the tribal population in the North East and other regions should be exempted from the ambit of the UCC.
The letter highlights that the Indian constitution does not specifically mandate a Uniform Civil Code for citizens.
Although Article 44 mentions the concept of a Uniform Civil Code as one of the directive principles of state policy, unlike fundamental rights, it cannot be enforced in a court of law.
The proposed UCC directly contradicts the basic structure and principles of the Indian constitution, such as secularism and pluralism.
Historically, the idea of a so-called UCC has not found acceptance in the sub-continent of India, despite efforts by the government since colonial times in 1835.
The emergence of India as one of the economic giants in the contemporary world under the regime of the BJP, with its push for “One Nation One Law,” is a matter of great concern for all non-Hindu minority populations in India, especially for the Nagas, who have their own distinct identity, practices, and systems.
The United Naga Council, a conglomeration of 20 tribes currently residing in the state of Manipur, unequivocally opposes the intent and objective of promulgating such a law of totalitarianism disguised as the UCC and will not accept its implementation under any circumstances in the Naga homeland.
India is known for its rich religious and cultural diversity, with each religion having its own customs, traditions, and personal laws.