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Uttarakhand Assembly: Uniform Civil Code Bill Introduced

by Web Desk
Uttarakhand Assembly: Uniform Civil Code Bill Introduced

As reported in the media earlier, the Uttarakhand government introduced legislation on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state Assembly today. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami is at the forefront of this move. On Monday, he stated that the proposed UCC will not only be “for the good of all sections” but also align with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas’ and ‘Ek Bharat, Sreshtha Bharat.’

Exhaustive Four-volume, 749-page Report With Several Recommendations

Led by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, a government-appointed panel has drafted an exhaustive four-volume, 749-page report that contains several recommendations. The panel has collected a huge volume of 2.33 lakh pieces of written feedback online and organised more than 70 public forums. During these meetings and interactions, panel members engaged with approximately 60,000 people across demographics in the state to help develop the draft.

Among the many proposals in the UCC are a complete ban on polygamy and child marriage, a uniform process for divorce, and a standardised marriageable age for girls across all faiths. The recommendations are aimed at fostering gender equality and social cohesion and will be deliberated upon during the special four-day assembly session which began yesterday and will continue till Thursday.

Draft Covers Various Facets Of Civil Life

The UCC draft encompasses various facets of civil life. It holds recommendations extending to inheritance rights, mandatory marriage registration, and an increased marriageable age for girls that encourages and facilitates their pursuit of education before marriage. Couples that fail to register their marriages will be ineligible for government facilities. This is being seen as a definite push for legal documentation of marriages.

While the specifics of the draft remain undisclosed to the public so far, reports suggest that it will establish a legal framework that covers the important aspects of many social and civil life in contemporary society like marriage, divorce, land, property, and inheritance laws, irrespective of religious affiliations.

If enacted, Uttarakhand will become the first state in post-Independence India to adopt the UCC, following in the footsteps of Goa. In Goa, it has been operational since the days of Portuguese rule.

The proposed UCC for Uttarakhand goes beyond religious boundaries in granting adoption rights to everyone including Muslim women. It attempts to bring in changes through the ban of Islamic practices such as halala and iddat (these are Islamic practices a woman must go through after a divorce or the death of the husband), promote the declaration of live-in relationships through legal registration, and simplify adoption procedures.

Notably, the practice of iddat has been at the centre of Pakistan politics recently, wherein its jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Khan has been accused of not completing the waiting period after divorcing her previous husband and marrying Khan in 2018.

“False cases registered by women would also come down. Legal sanctity would now be there in such cases,” says former DGP of Uttarakhand Ashok Kumar in reference to the implementation of UCC in the state.

The draft excludes population control measures and the Scheduled Tribes, that constitute 3 per cent of Uttarakhand’s population.

Key features of the proposed UCC include equal property rights for sons and daughters, equal treatment for adopted and biologically-born children, and elimination of distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children. In the event of a person’s death, it will ensure equal property rights for the spouse, children, and parents, that is a departure from previous laws that limited such rights.

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