By Ashish Tripathi
A group representing interests of tribals has approached the Supreme Court, contending that any direction to impose Uniform Civil Code would affect their distinct customs, culture, heritage and religious practices, including their right to practice polygamy and polyandry.
The Rashtriya Adivasi Ekta Parishad said the adivasis (tribals), numbered about 11 crore in the country, had their own personal laws and do not come in the category of Hindus as they worshipped nature instead of idols and performed burial of the dead.
The marriage ceremony of the tribals was also different from the Hindus, it submitted.The application by the group, which claims to be working for the upliftment of scheduled tribes for 25 years, has added a new dimension to the controversy relating to a suo motu petition “Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality” being considered by the Supreme Court where the issue of declaration of uniform civil code has arisen.
The apex court has already admitted a separate plea by advocate Balaji Srinivasan on behalf of Shayara Bano, and others challenging the validity of “triple talaq”.
The Jamait Ulama-i-Hind and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board have already opposed any proposal to impose Uniform Civil Code and remove triple talaq.
In an impleadment application, the group claimed, “In case Uniform Civil Code is made, then the advasis’ right to marriage, worship, last rites and other ceremonies would be abrogated”.
The move will not only affect Muslims but other communities having different customs and personal laws, it said.
It pointed out that polygamy is found among the Naga tribes, the Gonds, the Baiga, the Lushai among others while polyandry is prevalent in the Himalayan tract stretching from Kashmir to Assam. In its classical form, it is found among the Tiyan, the Toda, the Rota, the Khasa and the Ladhaki Bota, it pointed out.
Likewise, the group said the dissolution of marriage and divorce are easily possible among the tribals on various grounds by a simply ceremony. The tribals can marry more than one woman and the bar imposed under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, does not apply on them. The Delhi-based group also submitted that as per Article 44 of the Constitution, Uniform Civil Code is to be secured by the state and not any court.
This news article has been republished from Deccan Herald, October 21, 2016.
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