Uttarakhand assembly passes UCC Bill, raises more questions than providing answers



DEHRADUN –Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code 2024 Bill was passed by the Uttarakhand state assembly by a voice vote amidst chanting of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Vande Matram’ on Wednesday.

The Bill was tabled in the assembly on Tuesday by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and passed after two days of debates on the Bill. UCC was one of the major promises of the ‘Sangh Parivar’ which the BJP state government fulfilled today.

However, the Bill which promises to provide uniformity in marriage, divorce, succession and live-in relationships and matter related thereto, raises more questions and adds to the confusion than providing any kind of ‘promised uniformity’. The Bill has exempted the scheduled tribes from its purview which raises questions about the intentions of the state government.

The uniformity in the Uniform Civil Code, Uttarakhand, 2024 Bill lay in tatters in its preambles which states that the bill would not apply to members of the scheduled tribes. The question arises that If the bill is beneficial for all the citizens of the state, then why members belonging to the Scheduled Tribes have been deprived of this piece of legislation. The answer to this riddle lays in the political calculations of the ruling dispensation which did not want to annoy the Scheduled Tribes before the crucial Lok Sabha elections.

Some of the other salient features of the bill also raises questions about its applicability and legitimacy before the court of law. Interestingly, this code if passed and applied would “extend to whole state of Uttarakhand and also applies to the residents of Uttarakhand who reside outside the territories to which this code extends”. This could be problematic and would be in conflict with other applicable laws in other states and union territories of the country.

For instance, the bill proposes to make live-in relationships mandatory to be registered and failure to do so would bring legal action. Generally, most of the people particularly young conceal their live-in relationships and would hesitate to come forward to get themselves registered in a register which would be open for public viewing. Would this not infringe upon the privacy rights of individuals? What the Uttarakhand residents living outside in such relationships do?

Similarly, the Bill proposes that marriages and divorces should be registered. Already there is provision for marriages to be registered but by making registration of divorces that too in public registers would again infringe upon personal and privacy rights.

The Bill as per ‘Sangh Parivar’ agenda targets Muslims in the matters of marriage, divorce, re-marriage and succession. As per the provisions of the Bill, more than one marriage is banned which would affect Muslim Personal Law which allows up to four marriages for a Muslim man. The Bill also bans ‘Triple Talaaq’ which had already been banned under a central law passed by the Union government. The practice of ‘Iddat’ followed by Muslim women after divorce or death of their husband, also stands repealed. Ban on ‘Iddat’ is considered an interference in the Islamic law.

The legal age of marriage for girls has been fixed at 18 and that of men at 21 years. These provisions are already there in the Hindu laws but in Muslims, puberty is the criterion for marriageable age of girls that is normally above 15 years.

The UCC ignores the fact that most of the the issues related to marriage, divorce, re- marriage, adoption and succession are already covered by separate personal laws of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews. It is an established norm that if the legislative space is already occupied by a central law that would override any other law passed by any state legislature on similar issues. All these issues are already covered under Hindu laws for Hindus and Muslim personal laws passed by the Parliament.

Muslims would be affected in succession, marriage and remarriage as the UCC would infringe upon their personal laws. This clearly shows that it is only aimed at targeting Muslims.

The ‘Sangh Parivar’ has wisely chosen Uttarakhand and its’ recent ‘Hindutva’ heart throb Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to float the balloon of Uniform Civil Code(UCC) in the latest ‘Hindutva’ laboratory of Uttarakhand and reap the political benefits in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Interestingly, the euphoria is being created in the name of UCC and attempts are being made to show that a long standing demand of the people of the country has been met by the ruling BJP.

The ruling ‘Sangh Parivar’ dispensation would also highlight the opposition by the Muslims against UCC as their ‘resistance’ for reforms and further lead to communal polarisation much to their political benefit in the long run. Already, Muslim community has started opposing the move and there are calls for knocking at the doors of the courts against the UCC. Any court battle and resultant publicity by pliant media would also be to the advantage of BJP.

In Uttarakhand, several Muslim groups and left parties have opposed the UCC. A group of Muslims led by senior New Delhi lawyer Mehmood Pracha protested and submitted a memorandum on behalf of the Muslim community while Syed Ashraf Hussain Qadri, state president of All India Muslim Jamaat in a statement said that Muslim community would oppose the UCC as it violates Shariat laws as applicable to Muslims.

Commenting on the penalties for not registering live-in relationships, Indresh Maikhuri, state secretary, CPI(ML) said that it was an attempt by the RSS to invade into the private lives of individuals as they do during ‘Valentine Day’. He called it as a waste of public money and resources.

Although, the Constitution of India talks of having a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for the entire country, the attempt by ‘Sangh Parivar’ to float the balloon of UCC is an attempt to further polarise communally, reap political benefits and then test the waters for its nationwide implementation at a later stage.


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