CHENNAI: The Union government should take a leaf out of the Goan model of the uniform civil code and implement it across the country, according to an Israeli expert.
Presenting his findings based on research on the uniform civil code during the M K Nambyar Memorial Lectures 2009, Prof Shimon Shetreet, an Israeli expert on public and international law, said: “Goa is the only State in India that, regardless of religion, has an active and enforced code for all citizens even though India has different civil laws for different religious communities. The Portuguese Civil Code that remains in force even today was introduced in the 19th century in Goa and wasn’t replaced after liberation.”
“The Uniform Civil Code in Goa is a progressive law that allows equal division of income and property regardless of gender between husband and wife and also between children,” he said. Uniform civil code would not pose any threat to religious freedom and the government should find a right formula so both of them could exist side by side, Prof Shimon said.
He stressed the role of the legislative body in implementing the uniform civil code and said the role of judicial intervention was secondary.
“Based on the experience of six decades it has been found that it can’t be done in one shot. It should be done gradually, chapter by chapter, topic by topic. Start with one issue, deal with it. Finish it and start with the next one,” said the Greenblatt Professor of Public and International Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He allayed fears that the uniform civil code would amount to imposition of majority law over the minority. “Parallel law systems can exist side by side. Nobody has an intention to be unfriendly,” he argued. Shetreet said a parallel legal system does exist in many Western countries like the US, France, Germany and the UK. He also stressed the need of mediation procedures in the uniform code. He cited examples in Israel where there have been instances of civil supervision over religious courts.
Prof Hiram Chodosh, dean, professor of law, university of Utah, stressed the need for mediation in implementing the uniform civil code. He said there should be reconciliation of two or more opposing views.