New Delhi: The Law Commission's decision to invite views on the contentious Uniform Civil Code on Thursday drew criticism from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim organisations which said they will boycott it and accused the Modi government of waging a "war" against the community.
Calling the questionnaire "misleading and divisive", AIMPLB General Secretary Maulana Wali Rahmani said Muslims will not respond to it.
"We will boycott this questionnaire. No Muslim will respond to it because it is misleading and deceitful. The Uniform Civil Code is divisive and will lead to social unrest," he told media persons here.
"The uniform code is not suited for this nation. There are so many cultures in India and they have to be respected. A uniform code is against the spirit of the Constitution, which safeguards the right of citizens to practise their culture and religion," he said.
Questioning the timing of the move, Rahmani said the Narendra Modi government had deliberately thrown up this issue now to "hide its failures in the last two-and-half years".
The development comes days after the Union government told the Supreme Court that 'triple talaq', 'nikaah halaal' and polygamy were not integral to the practice of Islam or essential religious practices.
Subsequently, the Law Commission on October 7 put up on its website a questionnaire, comprising 16 questions, to seek public opinion on the civil code issue.
Other prominent Muslims who represented their respective organisations at the press conference here included Maulana Arshad Madani (Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind), Mohammad Jafar (Jamaat-e-Islami Hind), Maulana Asghar Imam Mehdi (Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith), Maulana Mahmood Madani (Jamiat Ulema Hind), M. Manzoor Alam (All India Milli Council), Naved Hamid (All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat) and Maulana Abul Qasim Naumani (Rector, Darul Uloom Deoband).
Besides, Barelvi cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan of Ittehad-e-Millat Council and Shia cleric Maulana Mohsin Taqvi were scheduled to attend the presser but could not make it, AIMPLB member Kamal Farouqi said.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind President Maulana Arshad Madani said, "The Muslim Personal Law is based on Quran and Hadith and we cannot alter it."
"Modi ji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) wants to impose dictatorship in the name of democracy," he added, as per IANS.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today urged "all sections" of the community to "keep open" door of the debate and join the discussions on reforms sans any prejudice.
"We are an open, democratic and secular country. The debate should happen. The current effort should not be looked with a prejudiced mindset, but an open mindset. Keep the door of the debate open," Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Minister (Independent Charge) Naqvi told PTI.
He refuted allegations that the BJP-led NDA government is interfering in the religious practices of Muslims through the Commission and said reforms are taking place in other countries too.
"It is not right to say that the government is interfering in this matter. We only want a healthy and logical debate to happen. This will help all: those supporting the view and also those opposing it," he stated.
On the other hand, Congress today said that its implementation would be impossible while BJP asserted that the move is aimed at moving towards a progressive society.
Other opposition parties like JD(U) accused the BJP-led central government of trying to polarise the people ahead of Assembly polls in several states, with leader of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi saying that bringing the UCC will "kill" the diversity and plurality of India.
Owaisi said the government's "real agenda" was to focus on Muslims and polarise the society.
Reacting to the issue, former law minister and Congress leader Veerappa Moily said it will be difficult to implement UCC in a country like India where various communities and groups are governed by personal laws.
"In a country of this nature, implementation of Uniform Civil Code is next to impossible," he said adding no one should take it as a communal agenda or a Hindu versus Muslim issue. He said 200-300 personal laws exist in India covering various communities.
However, BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said the Law Commission is taking opinion of all the stakeholders on the issue following which it will form a "considered opinion" and give it to the Supreme Court.
"Now it is for the Muslim Personal Law Board to consider whether they want to be part of the stakeholders or they want to be an individual identity... If Personal Law Board people are misinformed, I cannot do much about it," he said.
Singh also referred to some international declarations and countries like Turkey, Iran and Indonesia saying they changed law to ensure gender equality. He said it was a move towards building a progressive society.