The Law Commission's exercise to have a Uniform Civil Code in India has reached to a critical phase. The formulation of the code asked the citizens to end several religious practices and customs that had been branded anti-women in all three major religions.
Justice B S Chauhan, chairman of the Law Commission, said that formulating the questions was an elaborate affair involving several meetings of the Commission itself in addition to consultations with numerous experts in the field.
"It took us two months to frame the questions keeping in mind prevailing customs and practices in different religions to elicit meaningful responses from the public," he said.
Sending out a list of 16 questions to gauge public opinion and the direction in which it should proceed, the Commission also asked whether to ban or regulate polygamy?
The question may appear aimed at ending the much criticised practice of a Muslim man permitted to marry up to four women. But the commission adds another question to it - to end similar practices such as Maitri-Karar.
Maitri-Karar, even though banned by law, is still practiced sporadically in Gujarat. Through this, a married Hindu man signs a friendship pact on stamp paper with another woman and brings her home to live together.
Family law reforms have to view women's rights as an end in itself rather than a matter of constitutional provisions, religious rights and political debate alone. The Commission has fixed a 45-day time limit for receiving responses from the general public and stake-holders.