The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led government in Tamil Nadu has become the first non-BJP state to set up a constitutional commission to review personal laws.
The move comes amid plans by the BJP-led Center for a Uniform Civil Code that will replace religion-based marriage and inheritance laws.
The Commission has been given terms of reference on ten aspects to report.
These are: the conflict between personal laws and fundamental rights in the Constitution, making personal laws gender fair, justifying social evils as “religious customs”, codifying all personal laws to remove ambiguity in their interpretation and application, reforming secular personal laws such as Specials. The Marriage Act, 1954 protects couples having inter-religious or inter-caste marriages, sensitizes the society about the codification of personal laws with best practices developed in such personal laws, reforms personal/family laws in states exempted under the sixth provision of the Constitution. , personal laws in line with the International Conventions to which India is a signatory and revising the various personal laws in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
This move comes after Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi identified the issue of “Revision of Personal Laws” for a detailed study.
For wider consultation on the issue, the Parliamentary staff standing committee on public grievances, law and justice, chaired by Sushi Modi, invited memoranda gathering views and suggestions from stakeholders.
On October 28, the Tamil Nadu law department issued a government order to set up a committee to offer suggestions on personal laws to help the state government formulate its views to be sent to a standing committee in Parliament.
The four-member Tamil Nadu bench is headed by a retired judge of the Madras High Court, with M Sathyanarayanan as chairman, while the other three members are senior advocate Om Prakash and advocates E Prabu and Abdul Mubeen.
“The subject is broad. We have to overcome various judgments and acts of the state and central governments,” Justice Sathyanarayanan said.
“The parliamentary committee has asked to present the suggestions within 21 days. The state government has asked us to submit our report as soon as possible.”
DMK has made a clear distinction between personal laws and a uniform civil code. “We are against a uniform civil code,” said P Wilson, senior counsel for the Parliamentary standing committee.
“We wanted input from stakeholders on whether the current personal laws should be changed or not. There is no goal that leads to a uniform civil code. The DMK is against it.”