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‘UCC will be presented as biggest project of minority victimhood, Hindus will be pushed towards a compromise’: Adv J Sai Deepak on Hijab row

The area of Muslim personal law has been effectively left entirely to the community and its religious authorities, in stark contrast with Hindus, says Sai Deepak.

The Hijab row in the southern state of Karnataka has been a talking point across the country. The Karnataka government’s decision on strict enforcement of already existing rules and regulations on the uniforms has angered a section of Muslims and radical Islamic organisations, who have now descended on the streets to protest against such rules. They have also insisted that they would be wearing Hijab inside educational institutions, challenging the country’s secular ethos.

The Hijab ban in schools and the subsequent violent reaction of Muslims have now given a major shock, putting the pluralistic foundations of the nation at risk. Moreover, the mounting attacks on the idea of secular-democratic constitutional value by a section of society and their attempts to impose theocratic values on a nation that is bound by civilisational values have put the indigenous communities of the nation into a state of trepidation.

Amidst all of these raging debates over the future of India’s secular-democratic republic and fears of Islamisation, there is a growing demand for the immediate introduction of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) that could act as a check against the misuse of personal laws, especially by the Muslims, to challenge the foundational ideas of the country such as secularism and pluralism.

According to its proponents, UCC will bring some kind of parity among all the communities and halt the growing Islamisation in the country. The UCC, if implemented, will make personal laws applicable to all citizens equally regardless of their religion.

However, Supreme Court Advocate J Sai Deepak, who is one of the leading voices on Indic issues, has an interesting take on the idea of the Uniform Civil Code. Sai Deepak, who has extensively written and spoken about the issue of the Uniform Civil Code, has, in fact, raises a flag of caution on the scope and the nature of the Uniform Civil Code.

Recently, in a debate on Times Now, Advocate Sai Deepak pointed out that nobody yet understands the rationale behind the Uniform Civil Code. According to Sai Deepak, for Hindus, the discussions around the Uniform Civil Code will start with a compromise. Hindus will be pushed to start from a loser’s position as a part of the bargain, notes the Supreme Court advocate.

“Hindus have already lost a lot due to the policies of Nehru. The diversity of Hindu culture has been destroyed by codifying Hindu personal laws. With the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code, it is the Hindu culture that will lose out,” Sai Deepak said, adding that the proposed Uniform Civil Code’s fundamental nature will yet again revolve around the colonial ideas of secularism and democracy.

Sai Deepak notes that the Nehru government had codified the Hindu personal laws into four successive bills under the Hindu Code Bill. He adds that the personal laws were not only codified, but a good number of Hindu customs were completely done away with, and the community was never consulted.

“Only two people decided it, Dr Ambedkar is a mixed bag, and in this case, he completely supported Nehru in his unilateral imposition of this position without any consultation because Dr Ambedkar had already prepared the framework even before the independence. In the 1940s, Ambedkar had already worked on this, during which there was no consultation undertaken with respect to Hindus,” Sai Deepak argues.

Sai Deepak says he neither supports the Uniform Civil Code nor rejects it as the basic structure of the policy is yet to be decided. “We also want to know what the other communities are willing to compromise. If anybody thinks that this discussion will be a secular one, then they are wrong. This is an absolute religious-communal discussion issue. There is no point in secularising this issue,” Sai Deepak notes.

The Supreme Court advocate points out that the Hindu Civil Code has been based on only two schools – Mithakshara and Dayabhaga. As per him, there are more than two schools. The lawmakers established a polarity among all the practices in North, South, East and West regions to codify a personal law for Hindus.

The area of Muslim personal law has been effectively left entirely to the community and its religious authorities, in stark contrast with Hindus, says Sai Deepak.

In the current situation, if the countries want to arrive at a Uniform Civil Code, the Hindus will be made to compromise for accomodating concerns of non-Hindus. In addition, the Uniform Civil code will be presented as the biggest project of minority victimhood for the rest of the world, Sai Deepak expressed his worry about pushing for a Uniform Civil Code that is not include concerns of Hindus.

The Supreme Court advocate also suggests a pragmatic solution in place of a Uniform Civil Code. Sai Deepak says that instead of the UCC, the political class should first arrive at a uniform civil code for each religion, which is to say that a process should start first to at least rationalise the internal operation of each religion.

On question of reactions from Muslim community and on Muslims becoming the subject matter whenever there is a discussion on Uniform Civil Code:

One of the major talking points regarding implementing the Uniform Civil Code in the country is the opposition to the idea from the Muslim community. Even though there are legitimate concerns from the Hindu community, the left-liberal secular establishment of the country has often ignored it; instead, they have resorted to fear-mongering that the UCC would violate the religious rights of the Muslims in the country.

On the issue of perpetual display of victimhood by the Muslims and their response to the idea of UCC, Sai Deepak observes that the Muslims in the country reacted violently for the simple matter of Hijab not being allowed inside a secular classroom.

“When we start a discussion on Uniform Civil Code, India will have a larger issue on its hands. When former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted to bring Uniform Civil Code, the critics of UCC said the Muslims were not ready; this was in 1998 and not 1947. Now it is 2022; we are being told the same thing,” he laments, adding that the government should not raise the issue of UCC without any preparation.

“If it wants to decide on UCC, people have a right to ask, how does it smell, how do we touch it, what is its flesh and blood character,” says Sai Deepak in his interview with Journalist Arihant Pawariya.

In the discussion, Sai Deepak also explains how the Indian state has consistently been anti-Hindu when it comes to interference with Hindu customs. Therefore, more than the impact of the Uniform Civil Code on the Muslim community, he says, adding that he is concerned with the impact it will have on the Hindu community because the standard operating procedure of the Indian state, regardless of the ruling dispensation, is that if the state wants to undertake a measure which is specific to the non-Hindu community. The secular state will not be able to sell it across the board unless there is a compromise that is made by the Hindu community.

Therefore, since this is seen as a slap on the face of minorities, the Hindus will also be slapped. This is the traditional position, he adds.

The Supreme Court advocate also challenges the detractors to name one legislation that is Muslim-centric or non-Hindu centric in nature that has been passed since 1947, which has the effect of imposing even reasonable constitutional restrictions on their religious rights. “None, zilch,” says J Sai Deepak.

The only legislation that was doing this was the Maintenance Act, concerning marriage maintenance, which led to the Shah Bano, and that snowballed into the controversy of Ram Janmabhoomi, whose consequences Hindus are still facing.

Hindus cannot be used a cannon-fodder by a political party

Responding to BJP and RSS’s ideological position on the Hindutva movement, J Sai Deepak says that Hindus have sentiments independent of the BJP and RSS.

“Hindus have certain issues with the way they have been treated in this country independent of what BJP and RSS says. Hindus certainly have a problem with the fact that over 40,000 temples are under occupation within their country under the name of Places of Worship Act, 1991. Kindly do not reduce the Hindu concerns to a political party’s concerns as these are legitimate concerns,” adds Sai Deepak.

Sai Deepak asks, “Was there a BJP when Ram Janmabhoomi started? BJP did not even exist. Even RSS did not exist. RSS was formed in 1925, whereas the Ram Janmabhoomi has been going on since at least 1858 when the very first police complaint was filed.”

“So, it is extremely convenient on the part of some of these people to reduce all Hindu interests and issues as pro-BJP or pro-RSS as if they are pure political issues. No, they are very serious cultural, civilisation, and religious issues with which we have a legitimate problem. In every other country, we speak of reclamation of places that colonisers have taken over. Bharat has seen two waves of colonisation, maybe three waves of colonisation, first by the Muslims, second by the Christians and third by the Nehruvian-Marxists, who are hell-bent on propagating the first two colonisations and changing the self-image of the country and its natives. That is a fact.”

In his interview, Sai Deepak says the victimhood complex displayed by the Muslims is way past its expiry date because if Saudi Arabia can look at its past and say, “We wish to move forward, and this is not what we want to be for the rest of our lives, and this is not we wanted to be known far. I am sorry to say, in this country, where we recognise specifically three categories, it is time for the Ashrafs, Arzals and Ajlafs of this country to change.”

Pointing out the patience displayed by the Hindus, Sai Deepak notes, “In which of the country with close to 80 per cent majority, would – you have expected the majority population to wait for 200 years to get one of its places out of 40,000 places and that too through the court. The matter reached the Faizabad court; from there, it went to the Allahabad High Court in 1989. In 2010, the matter got transferred to Supreme Court delivered a judgement in 2019. This is the extent of patience Hindus have exhibited.”

Sai Deepak also cautions the secular Indian state not to take the tolerance of Hindus lightly. He says it is essential for the state to know that at times the community patience runs out, failing which the faultiness may keep on appearing again and again.

“Even after being patient for so many decades, when Hindus have finally said enough is enough, we are only asking for parity and not preferential treatment, and even if parity is seen as inequality and discrimination, well history has a way of teaching lessons and no constitution can come in that particular way because the constituent is part of the history and history is not the part of the constitution.”

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