New Delhi: New Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday that "comprehensive consultations" were required before taking steps towards a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
Prasad made the comments after taking charge of the Law Ministry following the Tuesday reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the council of ministers.
He said there would be "comprehensive consultations with all the stakeholders" before moving towards the UCC.
Pointing out that right now the issue of UCC 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, says: "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 and 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's "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."
Responding to a question on judicial activism often flagged by 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.