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President Approves Uttarakhand: Uniform Civil Code

The Bill was one of the poll promises of the BJP during Assembly elections in Uttarakhand in 2022.

President Draupadi Murmur has passed the State's Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill, 2024, making Uttarakhand the first State in independent India to adopt a UCC Act. The Bill completely outlaws rituals relating to marriage and divorce under Muslim personal law, such as talaq, iddat, and halala. However, it has excluded tribal people from its purview. On February 7, 2024, the State Assembly enacted a bill that guarantees women's equality in areas pertaining to inheritance and property rights.

The state published a notice in the gazette on Wednesday that stated, "Under Article 201 of the 'Constitution of India,' the President gave assent to the 'Uniform Civil Code Uttarakhand 2024' Bill passed by the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, on March 11 2024, and it is published as Act Number 3, the year 2024, of Uttarakhand for general information." One of the BJP's electoral pledges for the Uttarakhand Assembly elections in 2022 was the Bill.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami praised the President's approval and stated that the administration is dedicated to granting equal rights to all citizens with the State's implementation of the UCC law.

"Women's oppression will be reduced. By demonstrating the value of socioeconomic equality in the State, the UCC will be crucial in fostering concord, Mr. Dhami stated on X.

The Bill will now be notified by the State, and printing will follow.

The Bill, which is divided into three parts and seven schedules, is based on a 750-page draft that was drafted in four volumes by an expert group that the government established in June 2022 to look into possible ways to implement UCC in the State.

The State received the five-member expert group's draft on February 2; the State Cabinet then approved it on February 4. The committee was led by retired judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. Following its passage in a special session of the Assembly, the Bill was brought to the Governor for approval, and on On February 28, Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh (Retd.) gave his approval. The State then forwarded it for ultimate approval because the UCC is a concurrent list subject that needs the President's approval.

Shatrughan Singh, a member of the UCC draft committee and a retired IAS official, is in charge of the committee that the government has previously established to create regulations and carry out UCC.

Speaking about the Bill in the Assembly last month, the chief minister declared that it completely outlaws polygamy, polyandry, halala, iddat, and talaq since it gives both men and women equal rights to marriage and divorce.

Under the UCC, a person found guilty of halala faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail, a fine of ₹1 lakh, or both. Additionally, the Bill permits weddings to be solemnized only between men and women. For boys, the age of marriage is set at 21, and for girls, it is set at 18.

Additionally, the UCC Bill made marriage and divorce registration mandatory. If If this requirement is not met, the couple in question will not be eligible to use any government service. The mother will continue to have custody of the child until they are five years old in the event of a divorce or other domestic conflict between the husband and wife.

The Bill also includes strict penalties for not registering live. partnerships, with up to three months in jail, a fine of no more than ₹25,000, or both. Under UCC, children born inside a live-in relationship will be regarded as the couple's legitimate offspring.

All classes of sons and daughters are granted equal property rights under the Code. Furthermore, no distinction has been made between children born by assisted reproductive technologies, surrogacy, adoption, or legitimate and illegitimate births.

When someone passes away, their parents, spouse, and kids all get equal rights over their estate.

The constitution of India on uniform civil code

"The State shall endeavour to secure the citizen a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India," reads Part IV, Article 44 of the Constitution.

But the Constitution itself states in Article 37 that the DPSP "shall not be enforceable by any court." However, they are "fundamental in the country's governance." This shows that while our constitution itself thinks that a Uniform Civil Code ought to be applied in some way, it does not mandate that it be applied in that way.

Additional clauses in the constitution concerning secularism and religious freedom are as follows:
  • Article 15: No discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, caste, sex, or place of birth is allowed.
  • Article 25: Subject to reasonable limits based on public order, health, and mortality, freedom of conscience, profession, practice, and propagation of religion are guaranteed.
  • Article 25(2) outlines regulations for secular activities related to social welfare, reform, and religious practices.
  • Article 26: Freedom to Found and Run Houses of Religion.
  • Article 27: Prevents the state from imposing a tax whose earnings are allocated to support a certain religion.
  • The subject of religious teaching at educational institutions is covered in Article 28.
  • The term "secularism" was added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act. The Supreme Court ruled in S.R. Bommai v Union of India that secularism is a fundamental aspect of the constitution.

Goa Civil Code
The only state in India has a UCC in the form of common family law is Goa. Goa adopted the Portuguese Civil Code in the 19th century, and it wasn't updated after its freedom. It is still in effect today.

  • Goa's progressive Uniform Civil Code permits an equal distribution of property and income between spouses as well as between offspring (of either gender).
  • All births, marriages, and deaths must be formally recorded. For a divorce, there are many clauses.
  • Muslims who have registered their marriages in Goa are prohibited from engaging in triple talaq divorce or polygamy.
  • All assets and possessions possessed or acquired by either spouse during a marriage are jointly owned by the pair.
  • In the event of a divorce, each spouse is entitled to half of the property; in the event of a death, the surviving spouse's ownership of the property is divided in half.
  • The parents are unable to completely disinherit their children. The children must inherit at least half of their property. The children have to split up this inherited property evenly.

Nevertheless, the code is not precisely a uniform code and has several shortcomings. For instance, the Codes of Usages and Customs of Gentile Hindus of Goa list some conditions under which Hindu males are permitted to commit bigamy (if the wife fails to deliver a child by the age of 25, or if she fails to deliver a male child by the age of 30). For other communities, the law prohibits polygamy.

Arguments in Support of and Against the Uniform Civil Code:
India will become more integrated-a nation with several religions, cultures, and practices. India will become more integrated than it has ever been since independence with the aid of a unified civil code. It will assist in unifying all Indians under a single national civil code of behavior, regardless of their caste, religion, or ethnicity.

Will Aid in eliminating Vote Bank Politics: During every election, the majority of political parties engage in vote bank politics, which a UCC will aid in eliminating as well.

Personal Laws Are a Loophole: By permitting personal laws, we have established a different legal system that is still based on principles that date back thousands of years.

It is an indication that the country has moved away from caste and religion politics and toward a modern, enlightened one. Our social progress has not kept up. up with the tremendous rise of our economy. A UCC will promote social progress and assist India in achieving its objective of being a fully developed country.

It will grant women greater rights since religious personal laws are inherently sexist. By preserving traditional religious regulations as the foundation of Indian families, we doom all Indian women to oppression and maltreatment. The status of women in India would also be improved by a unified civil code.

All Indians Should Be Treated Equally: Every Indian should be subject to the same rules regarding inheritance, marriage, families, land, and other matters. The only way to guarantee equitable treatment for all Indians is via UCC.

It Encourages Genuine Secularism A unified civil code simply implies that everyone will be treated equally and that all Indian citizens, regardless of faith, must abide by the same laws. It does not imply that people's ability to practice their religion would be restricted.

Evolution has always been a part of nature. It is not appropriate for a small group of individuals to dictate which rules are enforced. These personal laws shouldn't be ignored at a different time and place since they were developed in a particular spatiotemporal environment.

Numerous clauses in certain personal legislation violate human rights.

The freedom of religion is guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26, and UCC does not reject secularism.

A more unified and codified set of diverse personal rules will result in a more cohesive legal framework. This will make it easier and more efficient for the judiciary to administer the law and lessen the current uncertainty.

Uniform Civil Code: Challenges in its Implementation
Creating a set of rules that will apply to every community is an extremely difficult and time-consuming undertaking since there are so many different interests and opinions to take into consideration.

False information regarding UCC Because the UCC's content is unclear, minorities may think that it is an attempt to force the opinions of the majority on them.
Lack of political will since the problem is sensitive and difficult.
Personal laws vary throughout faith communities, which causes the UCC discussion to become politicized.

Personal laws, according to UCC opponents, are a product of religious convictions. They argue that it is wise to avoid upsetting them since doing so may lead to a great deal of hostility and friction between different religious communities. Additionally, under Articles 29 and 30, India, a secular nation, allows its minorities the freedom to practice their own religion, culture, and customs. They contend that putting UCC into practice will violate these provisions.

Ideas for Putting a Uniform Civil Code into Practice:
The following recommendations must be taken into quick consideration in order to fulfill the objectives of the DPSP and preserve legal uniformity:
  • To comprehend the spirit of the UCC, people should be encouraged to have a progressive and open-minded perspective. Education, awareness, and sensitization campaigns must be implemented in order to achieve this.
  • The interests of all religions should be taken into consideration while drafting the Uniform Civil Code.
  • To ensure consistency, a committee of distinguished jurists should be formed, and care must be taken to avoid offending any one community's sensibilities.
  • Given the delicate nature of the issue, it is preferable if the relevant religious organizations take the lead.
UCC's Future Direction: Gradual Transition:
India features a distinctive fusion of the codified personal laws of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Parsis. All Indians do not live under a single statute book that has all of the family-related laws that are acceptable to the several coexisting religious sects in India. But the bulk of them think that UCC is unquestionably desirable and would significantly contribute to the fortification and consolidation of Indian nationalism. There are disagreements over when and how it should be accomplished.

It is the responsibility of political and intellectual leaders to work toward a consensus rather than utilizing it as a wedge issue to further their own agendas.

The issue is simply one of treating every human being with respect. something that personal laws have so far failed to achieve. It is not one of protecting minorities or even national unity.

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