The Uttarakhand state assembly is meeting on 5th February to discuss and pass the Uniform Civil Code Bill. On Monday, Pushkar Singh Dhami, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, announced that a five-member committee under the leadership of Justice Ranjana Desai had been formed to draft the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill and that it would present the draft to the state government on 2nd February. The UCC bill is expected to be introduced in the upcoming assembly session.
The Uttarakhand CM further said that divorce, live-in relationships, marriage registrations, polygamy, adoption, parents’ maintenance and women’s rights on the property will be covered under the UCC in the state.
During the Uttarakhand Assembly Elections 2022, Uniform Civil Code was one of the key promises by the BJP. The formation of the committee was declared after the first Cabinet meeting of the newly formed government in Uttarakhand.
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a vision to formulate and implement a single set of civil laws to govern marriage, divorce, property, inheritance and adoption, irrespective of caste, religion or gender, replacing the existing religion-based personal laws.
Article 44 of the Indian Constitution mentions the Uniform Civil Code, which is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy. These principles are not legally binding but are meant to guide the state in making policies.
Currently, the only state with UCC is Goa, which has a common family law known as the Goa Civil Code.
In India, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, and Jews are governed by their own personal laws.
Some support it as a way to promote national integration and gender justice while others oppose it, calling it a threat to religious freedom and diversity.
The Uniform civil code will promote national integration by creating a national identity and a sense of belonging among the citizens of India.
It would ensure gender justice and equality by ending discrimination and oppression faced by women under personal laws of different religions.
The UCC can grant equal rights and status to women in matters of marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance. It has the potential to modernise and reform the regressive practices that violate their fundamental rights.
UCC has the potential to simplify and rationalise the legal system, making it more accessible and understandable for the common people.
India is a country of diverse religions, cultures and traditions, with each community having its own set of laws and traditions to govern civil matters such as marriage, divorce, property, etc.
With such Diverse Personal Laws and Customary Practices, it would be challenging to implement the law.
There are also concerns that UCC could provoke communal tensions and conflicts in society.
Additionally, there is a lack of political will and pushback from religious minorities who view UCC can infringing on their religious freedom and cultural autonomy.
In a country as diverse as India, Unity should be more important than uniformity, and the UCC should preserve India’s multiculturalism and diversity. The law should only aim to eliminate practices that are violative of constitutional values.
There has been a suggestion from many scholars and academics to reform the personal laws first, which have provisions that violate the fundamental rights of individuals and create a just law that promotes equality and justice.
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