The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is an egalitarian regulatory system that predicates on dignity, said Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya while speaking at the panel discussion on the UCC, which was moderated by former Judge, Justice K. Kannan in SASTRA University’s School of Law, Chennai.

At the event, former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and Member of Parliament Manish Tewari spoke against the UCC while Advocate J. Sai Deepak along with Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya spoke in support of the proposed law.

"I fight for it (UCC) passionately because it predicates itself on, number one, equality. It predicates itself on, number two, more importantly on dignity of individual... most importantly dignity of the woman. Its dignity of the girl child which Uniform Civil Code brings to the fore, and I do not understand why we should convert that dignity of the woman debate to majority-minority", Poovayya said passionately.

Sajan Poovayya started by saying that he is a Kodava by birth. "I don't know whether most of you know that Kodavas are not Hindus by birth. We are Hinduized by virtue of what we accept to be the deity for us. We are Ganesh believers, we are Kaveri believers. Our Kul Devi is Kaveri because we are nature worshipers. We came into this Country at the time of Alexander, being the pagans of the Middle East which finds its root in Islam today..... We fought and came along with the so-called Invaders, the Alexanders of the world into this country, but made this Country our own. We were Hinduized into Sanatana Dharma".

The Senior Advocate said that he does not stand on the podium as a majority Hindu to impose on the minority Muslims what uniformity should be. "I stand here myself as a minority. I stand here from a minority, but I argue and passionately vote for Uniform Civil Code", he said.

He said that Polygamy is not the subject matter of the debate, as to whether a Hindu or a Muslim can have four wives. "The issue is how do we bring in an egalitarian set of regulatory system in this country where every individual will have his or her dignity protected and predicate his or her own life on that pedestal of dignity", he said.

Referring to the preamble of the Constitution, Poovayya said, "If we have to live in this country in terms of a Constitutional scenario of one country, there has to be a scenario where there is uniformity of the treatment of the laws when it comes to aspects outside the domain of my faith".

He said that we should not just brush away Article 44 of the Constitution saying it is a directive principle of state policy and it cannot be enforced. He said that this is not a case of someone filing a writ petition seeking a mandamus to legislate UCC. "Unfortunately, despite from 1985 the Supreme Court, repeatedly, 17 times, indicating to the government, and not just the government of the day, multiple governments...unfortunately none of the governments have worked on repeated nudges by the Supreme Court. The latest being by, I think, Justice Pratibha Singh in the Delhi High Court in 2022", he said.

He said that every time a Uniform Civil Code discourse happens, people ask whether anyone has seen the draft of the UCC and say that there is no point in debating it without seeing a draft. He said that the discourse should be around what should be in the UCC.

He also said that people say that religion is a matter of faith which is intrinsic to the individual and the Constitution of India is not built on collective or group rights but on individual rights and therefore we should give freedom to the individual and religion is his domain. "No doubt our Constitution actually is predicated on individual rights, although we may believe that as India we are one in the diversity, there is unity in collective, a hand is better than the collective of five fingers.. all that is fine in terms of philosophy. The Constitution is rightly based on individual rights. But when it comes to Article 25 in terms of freedom to practice profess and propagate religion that is in the domain of faith of a person. .... But when your manifestations of that faith take color in terms of your activities to another individual, towards another human being, towards another animal, Constitution comes into play because that's the theory of social contract. We have contracted ourselves to form a civilization, form a government and go forward. Therefore you may be whatever religion and Article 25 gives you complete freedom, but the minute that manifestation touches upon another person, it is the secular activity of that individual which comes into play", he argued.

He said that we can't say that the secular activity of a Hindu is different from a secular activity of a Muslim or a Christian, that is anathema, he said. "The treatment that I give to my daughter is not a religious activity. The treatment I give to my wife is not a religious activity. The treatment unfortunately or fortunately a Muslim man gives to his second wife he is not a religious activity in this country, it is a secular activity of this country and the Constitution has every reason to control that activity because that is when we will form ourselves into a Constitutional Democracy", he contended.

He said that UCC does not mean unifying customary practices and rituals that we practice. He said that his own marriage did not involve 'saptapadi' and was done as per Kodava customs.

He argued that "personal autonomy" is a double-edged sword which is used "conveniently". He cited the example of the Hijab matter. He said that "personal autonomy" was cited to defend the practice of Hijab. "..but when it comes to Uniform Civil Code, the argument of personal autonomy of the woman is not brought in. In every seminar that I have seen in the neighbouring state of Kerala, where people have actually had discourses and debated against Uniform Civil Code, not a single female participates. It is the men who take a decision saying no no, no personal autonomy of women. Let them not decide, we decide that there is no egalitarianism. We decide it is not predicated on dignity", he said.

He concluded by saying that UCC is a "bottom common denominator", a uniform set of rules that applies to all citizens of the Country. "If anybody says no, then I don't think that there is a scenario of Constitutionalism", he concluded before an applauding audience.