The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Church code caution

New Delhi, July 25: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India today welcomed the Supreme Court judgment on the Indian Succession Act, but called for extreme caution on moves towards an uniform civil code for the country.

“Extreme caution, a thorough study and a conducive atmosphere, which gives the minorities in the country a strong feeling of security, should be created before the government embarks on any move towards a uniform civil code, especially in the light of experience of the minorities during the last few years,” said the organisation’s secretary general, Bishop P. Fernandez.

“Section 118 of the ISA was a point of concern to all since it imposes restrictions only on Christians on their right to bequeath their properties for religious and charitable purposes. We are happy to note that the Supreme Court has observed this article as unconstitutional,” said Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios, the body’s president.

In the Lok Sabha, the issue led to verbal clashes between Shiv Sena and Muslim League members even as Speaker Manohar Joshi said the plea for a detailed discussion could be considered by the Business Advisory Committee.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Suresh Jadhav (Shiv Sena) said if the country had to remain united, the apex court’s “historic” suggestion (bringing uniform civil code) should be implemented.

Jadhav was supported by BJP member Rasa Singh Rawat in his contention that the government should seriously consider the court’s suggestion.

Agitated by the demand made by Shiv Sena and BJP members, G.M. Banatwala (Muslim League) said Article 44 of the Constitution, which speaks about a uniform civil code, should be scrapped. “The Article is an insult to the Constitution,” Banatwala said.

A full-fledged discussion on the issue could be considered by the committee, the Speaker said.

Today, another BJP ally, the DMK, also cautioned against taking any “hasty step” on framing a common civil code by Parliament.

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