From yesterday, the middle class drawing rooms in many cities and towns, are abuzz with amalgamated talk of Uniform Civil code and Triple Talaq among muslims.
The two topics are not much related, but every time a section of Indians talks about Uniform Civil Code, they see it equivalent and restricted to just Triple Talaq and Polygamy(a man with living wives marrying again). They automatically link Polygamy to Muslims.
To cut things short, there cannot be more limited perspective as displayed by the the above lot.
To put things in correct perspective, the Uniform Civil Code is putting all citizens of the country under a common law, wrt every aspect of his/her personal laws. These aspects include marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance (and anything which you can think about, as Law is evolutionary in nature).
Right now, in a country as diverse as India, this is not the case. The various religions, castes and tribes lead a part of their personal lives as per their personal laws. A Uniform Civil Code was not possible in India till now, as the very integration of India at the time of Independence involved taking into confidence many ethnicities. This later became clear when the Constitution of India enshrined special provisions for the minorities, tribes etc. The idea was to allow the minorities, tribals maintain and preserve their religious, cultural or ethnic identity. The presence of personal laws other than public laws is in line with that thinking. Do some research, and we will find that many tribes in India to this day practice Polygamy.
That said, lets come to the topic of Triple Talaq among Muslims.
Although the procedure of Triple Talaq is unique to muslims, it doesn’t link directly to Uniform Civil Code. As the presence of Personal Laws or Family Laws don’t infringe with the Constitution of India. The Constitution of India gives precedence to Personal Laws, than the Uniform Civil Code. As per the Constitution of India, the State (Government) must aspire for Uniform Civil Code(there’s no mention of Common Civil Code in Constitution Of India), but that must only be done when the people following a certain Personal Laws are ready for such a change.
There’s one way to question Triple Talaq among muslims though. Triple Talaq and polygamy in any society can be questioned solely from the perspective of women. If it prevents them from practicing their right in the dissolution of marriage or their right to get maintenance, or their right in family property, then we can question it. But, they cannot be questioned on the basis of Uniform Civil Code.
Personally speaking, I do think Triple Talaq among muslims(which gives the husband the sole right to divorce) and Polygamy (in many societies) are basically patriarchal concepts, aimed at robbing women of their basic rights and needs as human beings. The concept of unilateral talak not only devoids a woman of her right of say and question; it also devoids her right of maintenance. The same applies to polygamy among muslims or any other religion or tribe. It devoids the woman her rights in a marriage and the household. Hence in my opinion, rather than unrestricted polygamy or unilateral divorce, every woman must be brought under the ambit of common Law. This will not only ensure her rights but also help her grow into a capable human being.
To conclude, speaking from the purely legal perspective, I don’t think Triple Talaq and Polygamy can be argued under Uniform Civil Code.