13 Nov 2023

Uniform Civil Code: When is Uttarakhand Govt going to implement UCC, how much headway has been made

After Diwali, the Uttarakhand government is set to convene a special legislative session to introduce and discuss the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill.

Reports indicate that the bill will include provisions for gender equality and equal rights for daughters in ancestral property. However, there is no provision to increase the minimum age for girls' marriage from 18 to 21.

Govt had set up expert committee in May 2022

On May 27, 2022, the state government set up an expert committee to examine laws related to citizens' private matters and to propose the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. 

The committee, led by former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, consists of five members, including retired judge Pramod Kohli, social activist Manu Gaur, former Chief Secretary Shatrughan Singh, and Doon University Vice-Chancellor Surekha Dangwal.

Strong public demand for population control

While the committee received suggestions advocating for a uniform law regarding the number of children for all religions and communities, it did not make any specific recommendations on this matter. The committee emphasized the strong public demand for population control.

It is anticipated that the state government will use this committee's report as the basis for drafting the Uniform Civil Code. The report, however, does not propose any changes to the age of marriage for girls.

According to sources, the Uniform Civil Code aims to enact a law applicable to all religions concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody. 

Bill's primary focus on equality in personal laws 

The bill's primary focus is to establish equality in personal laws on a broad scale, covering subjects such as marriage registration, divorce, property rights, alimony, and child protection.

Despite these reforms, the proposed law does not alter traditional religious customs and rituals related to marriage. A notable provision in the bill stipulates that individuals in live-in relationships must register them.

Sources suggest that the committee's report, advocating the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in the state, will be submitted to the government soon.

UCC was a significant electoral issue for BJP

The Uniform Civil Code was a significant electoral issue for the BJP in Uttarakhand. Following the formation of the BJP government in the state, the committee was announced during the first cabinet meeting. 

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami stated that upon receiving the committee's report, the Uniform Civil Code would be implemented in the state.

Similar committees have been formed in BJP-ruled states Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to implement the Uniform Civil Code. Additionally, the Indian Law Commission has initiated the process of seeking advice and consultation on this matter.

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