Uttarakhand Cabinet Approves UCC: Ban On Halala To Prohibition On Polygamy, Here's What Uniform Civil Code Draft Could Include

Uttarakhand Cabinet Approves UCC: Ban On Halala To Prohibition On Polygamy, Here's What Uniform Civil Code Draft Could Include

The implementation of the UCC was a prominent aspect of the BJP's manifesto for the 2022 Uttarakhand assembly election. Ultimately, the saffron party secured victory in the re-election.

Tejas JoshiUpdated: Monday, February 05, 2024, 12:41 PM IST
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Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami | X@pushkardhami

Uttarakhand on Sunday moved closer to becoming the first state in the country in beginning the process to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as the state cabinet endorsed the draft report put forth by the UCC panel. This decision was made during a meeting led by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

The recent progress occurred following the submission of the report by the five-member UCC committee, led by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai, to the chief minister, just two days earlier.

The timing of this development coincides with a special two-day assembly session, announced by the BJP government of the state on January 26, specifically to deliberate on the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. The report is scheduled to be presented in the assembly on Tuesday, the second and final day of the session. With the ruling party holding 47 out of 70 seats in the house, the passage of the UCC bill is expected to proceed smoothly.

Following approval in the assembly, the legislation will be forwarded to the Governor, the state's constitutional head, for final approval. Upon receiving the Governor's assent, the bill will officially become law.

The implementation of the UCC was a prominent aspect of the BJP's manifesto for the 2022 Uttarakhand assembly election. Ultimately, the saffron party secured victory in the re-election.

What is Uniform Civil Code?

The Uniform Civil Code seeks to establish a consistent legal framework applicable to all citizens, irrespective of their religious affiliation. Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), located in Part IV of the Constitution, stipulates that “the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.

According to the Constitution, the state is only permitted to "endeavour" towards achieving a unified code among its populace, rather than enforce it. Furthermore, the implementation of the UCC raises concerns regarding the infringement of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution, such as Article 25 (which guarantees the freedom to profess and practice one's religion) and Article 29 (which enshrines the right to preserve one's distinct culture). Additionally, it conflicts with provisions granted to states like Nagaland and Mizoram.

What could be the features of UCC?

1. As per The Indian Express report, Uttarakhand's UCC legislation proposes to criminalise practices such as halala, iddat, and triple talaq.

2. Additionally, the Uniform Civil Code Bill in Uttarakhand might include provisions to prohibit polygamy.

3. The proposed legislation aims to establish a uniform minimum marriage age for individuals of all genders, irrespective of their religious affiliation.

4. It's possible that tribal communities, representing 2.9% of the state's population, might be excluded from the scope of the UCC Bill in Uttarakhand.

5. According to sources cited in The Indian Express report, the proposed bill includes measures aimed at population control, which may involve ensuring uniformity in the number of children.

6. Additionally, the UCC Bill in Uttarakhand might contain provisions for gender equality in matters concerning inheritance.

7. The IE report also suggests that the UCC is expected to address regulations concerning live-in relationships.

8. The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will establish a standardized legal structure for marriage, divorce, land ownership, and property rights applicable to all residents of the state, regardless of their religious background.

9. The UCC panel received 233,000 written suggestions and conducted over 60 meetings, engaging with approximately 60,000 individuals.

10. If enacted, Uttarakhand will be the first state in India post-Independence to adopt the UCC. This system has been in practice in Goa since the era of Portuguese colonization.

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