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Hindu Code Bill And Ambedkar

Based on the recent debate on the Uniform Civil Code, here is an article on the Hindu Bill that was proposed but did not pass and the role of Ambedkar.

Introduction
"I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved ." - B.R Ambedkar

Secularism in the Indian context does not mean the separation of religion from the state, but rather a benevolent neutrality towards all religions that are treated equally. However, this universalist attitude exists alongside efforts to reduce the prevalence of religion in society.

The 1950 constitution, heavily influenced by Nehru, did not recognize religious communities, but only individuals, to whom Article 25 guaranteed "freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion". This ideal conception of religion as a private matter implied the limitation of its sphere of influence by the influence of the state as an agent of "modernization". Nehru's major achievement in this voluntarist perspective was undoubtedly the Hindu Code Bill.

The Hindu code bill was introduced in the Constituent Assembly on 11 April 1947 and was referred by a select committee on 9 April 1948, after 4 years of deliberations, it remained inconclusive. In his own words, he "killed and died unused and unsung." This was probably the longest debate on any single bill in the independent Indian Parliament. The Congress was not eager to clarify the Hindu Code bill and because of this Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet on 27 September 1951 .

What was the need of a Codified Bill
The bill itself was an immense exodus from Hinduism and its humiliating set of gender laws. Until then, "Hindu law" was also casually interpreted through the oral reading of various contents from the Vedas, Smritis and Puranas. There was no real codification or uniformity, and women's lives were often in the hands of Hindu male interpreters. It can be said that in Hinduism there were two laws regarding inheritance, marriage, adoption etc. which are "Mitakshra" and "Dayabhaga".

In the Mitakshra legal state, a man's property is not individual property, while it belongs to the co-owners (shared ownership of the male line), in other words as father, son, grandson and great-grandson, only from their birth. Whereas in the Dayabhaga set of law, ownership of property has its individual character - that is, whoever inherits property from his ancestors has an absolute right to that property. This last element of the laws was adopted in the Hindu Code Bill by Ambedkar, and efforts were made to make it common law by adapting it to the needs of modern times.

Even in Dayabhaga , there was discrimination between female heirs based on their status, whether they were married or unmarried and whether they had children or not. The Hindu Code Bill further proposed to remove this discrimination. Ambedkar placed the widow, daughter and widow of the deceased son in the same place. To restore the equality of the sexes, a daughter's share, like that of a son, was prescribed both in her father's property and in her husband's property.

She became an equal heir as son, widow, widow of a deceased son, son of a deceased son of a deceased son and widow of a deceased son of a deceased son. Notably, Ambedkar brought absolute equality between son and daughter when he said that "the son also gets an equal share of the mother's property, even in Stridhana (defined in Hindu law as wealth women receive as gifts from relatives)".

Fight for Equality
Ambedkar's main concern for the status of women is reflected in the Hindu Code Bill. He even noted that his work on the Hindu Code Bill would be as important as his work on the Constitution itself.

The overall mission reflects strategic move to fight against the 'graded inequality. Dr. Ambedkar had assured that campaign would be effective by inclusion and from within than isolation or from outside, provided it would lead to respectable reformation .

"To leave inequality between class and class , between sex and sex , which is the soul of Hindu society untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap . This is the significance I attached to the Hindu Code ."

Objectives of Hindu Code Bill:
  1. Codify the law relating to rights of property of deceased Hindu without making a will (intestate) for both genders, son, and daughter
  2. Order of succession among the different heirs to the property of deceased (intestate)
  3. Law of maintenance, marriage, divorce, adoption, minatory and guardianship.

Hindu Code Bill Controversy
The bill drew so many protests from upper caste groups such as the "Hindu Mahasabha" and members of the house, and most members charged that the bill would destroy the foundations of Hindu society on which it is built, especially the sanctity of marriage and lineage. of the Hindu joint family system. The main objective of this bill is to codify the rules of Hindu law which have been scattered in countless decisions of the High Courts and the Privy Council, leading to constant litigation. Many members of the House were worried about their chances in the upcoming election to vote on banking policy.

Hindu nationalists were particularly outraged that the civil law reform concerned only Hindus, while the constitution ordered (in Article 44 of the Directive Principles) the state to give India a uniform civil code: hence Mookerjee's statement that "the government dared not touch the Muslim community". Nehru's secularism here suffered from a certain ambiguity, or at least a gap, no doubt due to his efforts to appease the Muslims who chose to remain in India. He was prepared to approve the right of civil courts to apply Muslim personal law in cases involving Muslims.

In his view, majority society had obligations to minorities. As S. Gopal points out, "He constantly insisted on the importance of generous treatment of the minorities so that they felt like Indians and were completely at home." Such an attitude could be denounced as anti-Hindu bias, while the RSS later described it as "pseudo-secularism."

However, in the early 1950s, campaigns in this direction succeeded in getting the Hindu Code Bill amended and a parliamentary vote delayed, but he failed to mobilize broad support or even win the support of traditionalists in Congress. Rajendra Prasad, who was elected President of the Republic in 1950, despaired of the project, whose "new concepts and new ideas ... are not alien only to the Hindu Law but can wreak havoc in every family." He argued that the reform proposal should first be included in of the party's election program and presented to voters before any debate in parliament.

Has anything changed:
Let's look at how we have moved and progressed as a society when Dr. Ambedkar introduced equality and social mobility in the Hindu Code Bill as these progressive reforms came under attack from the Brahmin ruling class. Due to paucity of time let us look at the reform brought about by the Marriage Act and how it is under attack by the Brahmin ruling class.

The whole purpose of the reform was to encourage inter-caste and sub-caste marriages, according to the Indian Human Dev Survey (IDHS) released in 2014, only 5% of marriages are inter-caste marriages. Even in this small number, the brutality of inter-caste marriages has skyrocketed. Yes, the number of inter-caste marriage killings increased from 28 to 251 between 2014 and 2016, a jump of 750%.

The state of Tamil Nadu, which prides itself as a shining example of using affirmative action to progress in areas like literacy, healthcare etc., has 80 murders registered, UP surpasses that with 131 murders, in most of these murders oppressed Dalits and their families were victims.

Not only that, the Brahmin ruling class is hell-bent on destroying the freedom guaranteed by the act of marriage. The Tamil Nadu government recently sent a circular to all sub-registrars that couples who have to register their marriages should bring consent from their parents, ironically, Tamil Nadu is the first state to recognize self-respect marriage. without the presence of a Brahmin priest in 1967 by the Dravidian party, imagine the situation in other states that were lagging behind in literacy and development.

Conclusion:
We need a uniform civil code because religion should not control the law and its implementation. Religion comes with a pre-defined set of rules and norms which are fixed and can never be changed according to the need of the hour. Religious laws cannot be modified when future generations think it would be illogical to have a certain set of laws.

If religion-based laws continue, the community of homosexual would have no place in the world, sati will be allowed, widows cannot remarry, a thief's hand may be cut off and he cannot atone for his crime and lead a better life in the future, a man can marry more than one wife and men and women's would be forced to remain in abusive marriages.

A democratic and a liberal society must ensure that citizens are protected by laws that can be changed by consent if found incompatible with the times.

Written By: Kaushiki Singh

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