Comprehensive consultations needed on uniform civil code: Prasad

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) New Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said “comprehensive consultations” were required before taking steps towards a Uniform Civil Code.

Prasad made the comments after he assumed charge of the Law Ministry following reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the council of ministers on Tuesday.

Prasad said there would be “comprehensive consultations with all the stakeholders” before moving towards the Uniform Civil Code.

Pointing out that the Supreme Court has commented on the issue from time to time, and that the issue of uniform code was being examined by the Law Commission, Prasad said Article 44 of the Constitution mandated a common civil code.

Article 44, under the Directive Principles of State Policy, reads: “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

Describing himself as an “old hand” in the Ministry of Law and Justice, Prasad said this was his third stint, first being as a Minister of State in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and then when Modi took office in May 2014.

He said the government favoured strengthening the justice delivery system, transparency in the appointment of judges and their fast-tracking, upholding the independence of judiciary and working in harmony with it besides granting citizenship rights to Hindu migrants from Bangladesh.

Dismissing any confrontation with the judiciary on framing a procedure for appointing judges to the higher judiciary, Prasad said the appointment of judges should be quick and done in a transparent manner.

People with “competence and integrity” must occupy the high judicial positions, he said.

“I don’t contemplate confrontation on the drafting of the memorandum of procedure for the appointment of judges. We look forward to work in harmony,” he said.

Responding to a question on judicial activism often flagged by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Prasad said an independent judiciary was an important facet of the State.

He said as a matter of principle, the Modi government was in favour of granting citizenship rights to Hindus who have crossed over to India from Bangladesh.

But “both the Law Ministry and the Home Ministry have to work together and look into it,” he added.

–IANS

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