New Delhi: Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday raised the issue of uniform civil and criminal codes in the Rajya Sabha, saying BR Ambedkar wanted such codes in the country.
"Dr Ambedkar wanted to have uniformity of law, civil as well as criminal. ... After so many years of experience, have we done justice and moved in that direction? Is there uniformity of civil law," he asked during the debate on the commitment to India's Constitution as part of the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Ambedkar.
Naidu asked whether it was possible to "talk about, accept and work out the modalities of common law with regard to marriage, inheritance, divorce and maintenance?"
"No, so far we have not been able to do it, whatever may be the reasons," he said, adding he did not favour a particular law, like the Hindu law, prevailing over the rest.
He asked whether any attempt has been made to move in that direction despite the Supreme Court saying it a number of times and the fact that in Goa, there was a common civil code.
"Practically, there is no problem. Different communities are living in harmony there," he said and referred to the Shah Bano verdict of the apex court and Parliament amending law.
"Have we done justice to it? To what extent has it helped us? Or has it hurt us," he said.
The founding fathers of the Constitution, he said, wanted to respect the constitutional institutions -- Parliament, Judiciary and others. "How far have we strengthened them? Keeping the unity and integrity of our country and its democratic socialist and secular character -- to what extent we have achieved it," he said.
Maintaining that he was expressing his views more as an MP than a Minister, Naidu said for Ambedkar, caste was "anti-national."
"Are we doing justice to this? Are we not basing some of our politics on the basis of caste; some of our politics on the basis of religion; some of the politics is on the basis of region? This is one issue which everyone has to ponder over," he said.
He also raised the issue of gender equality, saying "a woman is a woman. She may be a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or of some other religion, but a woman is a woman. Is there gender equality?"