By Faizan Mustafa
In a consultation paper released recently, the Law Commission of India has boldly said that a uniform civil code (UCC) is neither feasible nor necessary at this stage.
The response must come as a shock to those in support of a “one nation, one law” tagline. The divide between the socialists and liberals is clearly visible. ‘Legal pluralism’ and ‘radical libertarianism’ are well-recognised scholarly traditions. There is a consensus that the state is not the only source of law. History has many instances of pluralistic legal systems where multiple sources of law existed.
Therefore, the Law Commission has rightly recognised the plurality of diverse personal laws and proposed internal reforms in personal laws to make them compatible with the constitutional provisions of equality and non-discrimination.
One hopes that religious communities in general and Muslims in particular will now as a first step initiate meaningful dialogue on internal reforms in personal laws.
The Supreme Court has been advocating the enactment of a UCC, perhaps without fully appreciating the ground realities. For instance, Justice Vikramajit Sen in ABC v. State (2015) observed: “Our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation.” Here, the court was not dealing with some religious or personal law but with a statutory provision of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. Thus the reference to a UCC was unwarranted. In Sarla Mudgal (2015), the Supreme Court made observations that those who stayed back after Partition knew that India believes in one nation and therefore no community can claim separate religious laws. Loyalty to the nation and uniformity in laws are not related to each other.
Even in the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting a UCC in the fundamental rights chapter. The sub-committee on this was so sharply divided that the matter was eventually settled by vote. It finally held that the provision was outside the scope of fundamental rights and thus non-justiciable. We need to appreciate the distinction between justiciable and non-justiciable rights. B.R. Ambedkar explicitly said in the Assembly, “No government can use its provisions in a way that would force the Muslims to revolt. If a government acts thus [imposing a common civil code], such a government would be insane in my opinion.”
We need to appreciate that in Article 44, the framers of the Constitution have used the term ‘uniform’ and not ‘common’ because ‘common’ means one and same in all circumstances whatsoever and ‘uniform’ means ‘same in similar conditions’. It is an erroneous perception that we have different personal laws because of religious diversity. As a matter of fact, the law differs from region to region. It seems the framers of the Constitution did not intend total uniformity in the sense of one law for the whole country because ‘personal laws’ were included in the Concurrent List, with power to legislate being given to Parliament and State Assemblies. Preservation of legal diversity seems to be the reason of inclusion of Personal Law in the Concurrent list. The Law Commission has given due weightage to this diversity.
What is the debate on uniform civil code all about?
It is a myth that we have uniform criminal laws. States have made amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. For example, Punjab recently introduced Section 295AA to the IPC — life term in all sacrilege cases.
Another myth is that Hindus are governed by one homogenous law after the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill. It is also true of Muslims and Christians. The Constitution itself protects the local customs of Nagaland. It is repeatedly mentioned that Goa already has a uniform code. But Hindus there are still governed by the Portuguese Family and Succession Laws. The reformed Hindu Law of 1955-56 is still not applicable to them. In the case of Muslims, the Shariat Act 1937 has not been extended to Goa. Thus they are governed by Portuguese and Shastric Hindu law, and not by Muslim personal law. The Special Marriage Act (a progressive civil code) has not been extended to Goa. Even in Jammu and Kashmir, local Hindu law statutes do differ with the Central enactments. The Shariat Act is also not applicable and Muslims continue to be governed by customary law which is at variance with the Muslim personal law in the rest of the country.
It is distressing that no one talks about the non-implementation of other Directive Principles which are far more important than the enactment of a uniform code. What about the right to work, living wages, distribution of community resources to sub-serve the common good, avoidance of concentration of wealth in few hands and the protection of monuments?
Amendments to a community’s personal law with a view to bringing about changes for its betterment is one thing; but to tinker with the enactment with the sole purpose of introducing ‘uniformity’ is quite another. Just laws are far more important than uniform law. Piecemeal reforms should be the way forward.
Google Assistant Can Now Wake You Up by Gradually Turning on Your Smart Lights
Google Assistant has received a Gentle Sleep & Wake feature that will enable your Google Home device to set a routine and gradually turn lights on or off over the course of 30 minutes. The feature will work with Philips Hue smart lights to gently wake you up in the morning or go to sleep at night by adjusting the lighting in your room. This essentially mimics a sunrise and sunset. Google has initially brought the smart feature in Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK, and the US in English only.
Utilising the new addition, you just need to ask “Turn on Gentle Wake up” after activating Google Assistant on your Google Home device by saying, “Hey Google.” This will automatically pair your daily morning alarms with gradual brightening of your Philips Hue lights. However, it is worth noting here that you need to speak the Gentle Wake Up command on the same Google Home device on which you set your alarms on.
Similarly, you can ask Google Assistant “Sleep my lights” to gradually start dimming your Philips Hue lights. You can also programme the command for up to 24 hours in advance. Further, you can precisely tell Google Assistant to dim lights of a particular room by saying, “Hey Google, sleep the lights in the living room.”
Google Assistant can also gradually brighten your Philips Hue lights at the time you set and can be set up to 24 hours in advance by saying, “Hey Google, wake up my lights at 6:30am.”
Additionally, Google has made the Google Assistant smarter to enable your Google Home device to tune out ambient noises. You just have to say, “Hey Google, play white noise” and see the new change in your room.
Google Home in your room can also help you try out a short meditation or a sleep exercise. You have to ask, “Hey Google, tell Headspace I’m ready for bed” or “Hey Google, I want to meditate.” This will trigger Google Assistant to give you recommendations such as healing sounds and sleep sounds through your Home device.
For someone who wants to enable Google Home Hub to save step-by-step recipes for later use, Google has made a “My Cookbook”. Google Home Hub can also play workout videos by saying “Hey Google, show me barre workout videos.” Moreover, Google Home devices can also read out audiobooks for you once you say, “Hey Google, ready my book.” You can also say, “Hey Google, stop playing in 20 minutes” to set a timer for bedtime reading each night.
Asus ZenFone Live L2 With 3,000mAh Battery, Gradient Finish Launched
Asus ZenFone Live L2 has been quietly introduced by the Taiwanese computing giant. Currently listed on the Asus’ global website, the smartphone is a successor to the company’s ZenFone Live L1 phone that was launched in May last year. Asus ZenFone Live L2 runs on obsolete Android 8 Oreo and sports a dated design with massive top and bottom bezels. There is no word on the pricing or availability details of the phone at this point.
According to the official listing, Asus will be releasing the ZenFone Live L2 smartphone in two colour options – Rocket Red and Cosmic Blue – both of which come with a gradient finish.
Asus ZenFone Live L2 specifications
The dual-SIM (Nano) Asus ZenFone Live L2 runs on Android Oreo with the company’s ZenUI 5 on top. The phone features a 5.5-inch HD (720×1440 pixels) IPS display with 18:9 aspect ratio, 400 nits brightness, and 82.3 percent screen-to-body ratio. It will be powered by quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC, depending on the market, paired with Adreno 505 and Adreno 308 GPU respectively. Additionally, the ZenFone Live L2 packs 2GB of RAM, 16GB/ 32GB of onboard storage, and a dedicated microSD card slot (up to 2TB).
On the imaging front, Asus will be offering a 13-megapixel or 8-megapixel primary camera with an f/2.0 lens. There will also be a 5-megapixel f/2.4 selfie shooter as well on the front.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 4G LTE support, and Micro-USB 2.0. Further, ZenFone Live L2 includes a 3,000mAh battery and a 3.5mm audio jack. The dimension of the phone are 147.26×71.77×8.15mm and it weighs 140 grams.
Microsoft unveils new Xbox all-digital edition
Microsoft has unveiled its Xbox One S All-Digital Edition for $249 which would be available starting May 7.
This is a new model that will be sold alongside the original Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X.
“A disc-free, completely digital Xbox One is no longer just a rumoured pipe dream for cord cutters and the current generation of Fortnite fanatics who’ve never had to set foot inside of a GameStop.
“The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will hit retailers on May 7 for $250 (that’s $50 less than the Xbox One S) and it’s available for pre-order today,” Engadget reported on Tuesday.
The new console comes with three popular Microsoft-owned titles, namely Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3 and Minecraft.
“The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is $50 less than Xbox One S and we expect to maintain at least this price difference between the two consoles,” Jeff Gattis, General Manager of Platform and Devices Marketing at Microsoft was quoted as saying by The Verge. There’s also a special offer on Xbox Game Pass, the monthly subscription service that includes access to more than 100 games.