There is no one personal law which is complete and just in itself. What we cannot achieve through forced legislation, we are slowly achieving by seamless transition through secular laws. For instance, opposition to a private bill for uniform adoption law was thrown out by loud protests in Parliament some years ago. The apprehension of the Muslim community was that concepts alien to its socio-religious practices will march one after another if change in legislation is permitted in one field. It was a prospect of suffering forced indignity that was the cause for the opposition. The opposition by Christians was no less vociferous. When adoption was made possible through the Juvenile Justice Act, the Bombay and Madras High Courts adopted dynamic interpretations to hold that adoption under the Act will be applicable to Christians as well. Soon enough the Supreme Court ruled that Muslims could also adopt under the Act. Not a whimper of protest from any community!
Look at the sheer superiority of some of the laws of one community over another. Take the law of succession. Under the Hindu Succession Act, the mother is a Class I heir and the father has no place in the presence of the widow and children. Under the Indian Succession Act, applicable to Christians, in the absence of lineal descendents, the father is an heir along with the widow and not the mother. Do you think that the law is unfair to the father in one case and to the mother in the other? Look at the Muslim law. Both the father and mother are primary heirs. Again, the grant of absolute right to property by succession to a female was not accepted for Hindus till 1956 when Section 14 assured such a right. This provision is the most abused provision by several machinations through pleas of oral partition, oral release, ouster and other things, by the male members of a Hindu family. This provision has probably generated the maximum litigation, the cause being the unwillingness of the Hindu patriarchy to cede to a female member an equal right in the property. Muslim law recognised full right to a woman since the days of Prophet Muhammad, several centuries before the whole of the modern West accorded to a woman property rights.
The dynamics of social transformation through the instrument of law from diverse civil code to uniformity shall be gradual and cannot happen in a day. We cannot perhaps set a time limit but India shall be stronger by its multi-cultural, multi-religious differences and our national identity would be more secure in its diverse form than through a forced homogeneity of all personal laws. That shall take place by borrowing freely from laws of each other, making gradual changes in each of the pieces of legislation, making judicial pronouncements that assure gender equality, and adopting expansive interpretations for broadening the outlook relating to marriage, maintenance, adoption and succession by specifically acknowledging the benefit that one community secures from the other. Take up reforms in each personal law through independent initiatives, and we will have created laws that are uniform over a period of time. On this issue, what is seemingly centrist is ultra-right and what could be perceived as conservative is the balanced centre.