TT, New Delhi, April 13: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) today submitted over 48 million signatures to the Law Commission, objecting to a uniform civil code.
The petition insisted on the retention of the Shariat law as it stands today on all issues, including divorce and polygamy - the two practices currently under legal challenge.
Of the 48,347,596 signatures that AIMPLB has collected, more than half - 27,356,934 - are of women.
According to the 2011 census, the Muslim community in India is 172-million-strong. The 48 million signatures collected by AIMPLB suggest that over a quarter of the community has spoken up against a common civil code even though the case in the Supreme Court against "instant" triple talaq and polygamy has the backing of many Muslim women.
The signatures have been collected over the past seven months after the AIMPLB, along with several other Muslim organisations, announced their decision to boycott the Law Commission's questionnaire on the contentious common civil code, billing it as an exercise driven by mala fide intentions.
One of the main concerns of the board pertained to the use of the online mode to elicit views on the common civil code.
"Muslims are a minority community. We are 18 crore. We will be outnumbered in such an online conversation. Also, what if people opposed to our personal law impersonate Muslims to inflate the number of those in favour of a common code? Where is the need to disturb the existing arrangement where people of all faiths have their own personal laws?" a board member had asked.
In view of this possibility the community itself had flagged, AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani handed over scanned copies of all the signatures favouring Shariat law to Law Commission chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan. This was backed up with a hard disk containing details of each and every signatory.
Following the decision to boycott the Law Commission's questionnaire, community leaders mobilised opinion against the common code country-wide and very few Muslim organisations defied the boycott call.
The few Muslim organisations like Zakat Foundation and Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan - which did respond to the Law Commission's questionnaire - also expressed reservations about a single code, averring that it infringes on an individual's right to religious freedom and questioned its prioritisation by the Modi government.
Earlier this week, AIMPLB vice-president Kalbe Sadiq had declared that the board would end the practice of triple talaq within a year and a half.
Asked how Sadiq's views fitted with the submission made before the Law Commission, AIMPLB's spokesperson Kamal Faruqui told this newspaper that "those were his personal views".
He quickly added that the board would meet in Lucknow this weekend when the case in the Supreme Court against triple talaq would also be discussed.