Naga Hoho, Sumi Hoho & NGBF oppose Uniform Civil Code
DIMAPUR— In line with the stand of various tribal bodies and Naga political groups, the Naga Hoho, Sumi Hoho and the Nagaland Gaonburas Federation (NGBF) have also registered their opposition to imposition of UCC, especially in the context of Nagaland.
The Naga Hoho in a press release stated that it firmly believes that any attempt to enforce a “one-size-fits-all approach” would undermine the constitutional provisions, unique history, and indigenous culture and identity of the Nagas, as well as the principles of unity in diversity in the country.
“Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India recognises the special status and rights of the Nagas. It grants the Nagas rights to maintain the social, cultural, and religious practices and administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to customary law and ownership of land and its resources thereby ensuring their protection against any potential impingement. This constitutional safeguard is essential in respecting the distinctiveness and autonomy of the Nagas, acknowledging their historical journey, and upholding their fundamental rights,” the hoho said.
Maintaining that Nagas have a rich and diverse cultural heritage that has evolved over centuries, the hoho also said the traditional institutions, customary laws, norms and practices have played a vital role in maintaining social harmony and ensuring the well-being of the Naga communities.
Imposing a Uniform Civil Code without taking into account the unique cultural and historical context of the Nagas would be tantamount to erasing their identity and diluting their cherished traditions, NH affirmed.
The hoho also went on to state that India’s strength lies in its unity in diversity, which encompasses a tapestry of languages, religions, and customs across its vast expanse and that this diversity is not only celebrated but also protected by the Constitution, which enshrines the principle of pluralism.
Imposing a Uniform Civil Code would overlook the diverse needs and aspirations of different communities and undermine the very essence of this unity in diversity, it stated.
The hoho further stated that the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks are based on mutual respect, understanding, and a commitment to finding a sustainable solution that respects the unique historical identity and rights of the Nagas.
“Therefore, we urge the government and all concerned stakeholders to reconsider the imposition of a Uniform Civil Code and instead foster an environment that respects and safeguards the diverse cultural identities and traditions across the country,” NH said.
Sumi Hoho (SH) in a representation to Member Secretary, Law Commission of India, said that implementation of UCC would have “significant negative consequences” for the tribal people as well as other minority communities in India.
Pointing out that the state of Nagaland, protected by Article 371A of the Constitution of India, has well-established customary laws, religious practices, and social traditions, the hoho maintained that imposition of the UCC would directly violate the special status accorded to the people of Nagaland.
“Moreover, the introduction of UCC would undermine the core principle of unity in diversity enshrined in the Indian Constitution. It would render the concept of a federation of the Indian union meaningless. The UCC represents a threat to the religious freedom and cultural rights of minorities, which are fundamental rights guaranteed to every Indian citizen,” SH said.
The hoho further stated that Nagas, being distinct in their religious beliefs and social practices, are unfamiliar with many traditions prevalent on the mainland, and therefore any attempt to impose laws against the will of the people would be “undemocratic and unacceptable.”
In a separate press statement, the NGBF expressed apprehension that the implementation of UCC is likely to subsume all personal laws in the country.
“Currently, all issues that come within the definition of a ‘civil code’ under Indian law are governed by separate provisions under religious customary laws or codified laws pertaining to each religion in India. If UCC comes into force, all autonomy given under these provisions until now will be irrelevant,” the federation said.
Pointing out that Nagaland has a unique and diverse culture, traditions and practices, which are recognised and protected under Article 371 (A), NGBF went on to state that implementing the UCC in Nagaland will dilute the entire system of governance and result in “perplexity and chaos.”
“Therefore NGBF, representing grassroots people of Nagaland, disowns and opposes the proposal of UCC in Nagaland and hereby appeal to the Govt. of India to keep us outside its purview. We have our history that enables us to say ‘No’ to UCC. We Nagas are Indian not by choice but by compulsion,” the federation stated.