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Uttarakhand to form panel for implementation of uniform civil code

Dehradun: A day after being sworn-in, the Uttarakhand cabinet led by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami Thursday decided to form a committee of experts on the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code in the state.

Dhami said after the meeting that Uttarakhand will be the first state to implement such a code, but quickly added that “perhaps it is already in force in Goa”.

Goa has been following the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 which is also called Uniform Civil Code. Post its liberation from the Portuguese rule, the code is survived by virtue of Section 5(1) of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act, 1962.

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Its continuance amounts to the non-enforcement of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Hindu Succession Act, 1956 or Indian Succession Act, 1925 or Shariat (Application) Act, 1937.

Dhami said after the meeting that his government will set up a high-powered committee which will prepare “a draft of the Uniform Civil Code and our government will implement it”.

“The Cabinet has unanimously approved the proposal. We also expect other states to follow us.”

Dhami was sworn-in as the chief minister of Uttarakhand on Wednesday for a second consecutive term.

“We are a Himalayan state with a distinct cultural and religious heritage. We also share borders with two countries. So, a Uniform Civil Code is necessary. There is a provision for it in Article 44 of the Constitution. Even the Supreme Court has expressed its dissatisfaction in the past on its non-implementation,” he said.

Experts, however, are divided on whether a state government can enact a uniform civil code.

Constitution expert and former Lok Sabha secretary general P D T Achary had told PTI recently that both the Centre and states are empowered to bring such a law as issues like marriage, divorce, inheritance and property rights come under the Concurrent List of the Constitution.

But former Union law secretary P K Malhotra was of the view that only the Central government can bring such a law by moving Parliament.

By taking a decision on a Uniform Civil Code at the very first meeting of the state cabinet, Dhami has fulfilled a major pre-poll promise by him.

He had announced on the last day of campaigning for the February 14 state assembly polls that if re-elected, the BJP government will form a high-powered committee consisting of legal experts, all stakeholders, senior citizens and intellectuals to draft a Uniform Civil Code.

At the first meeting of Dhami’s newly sworn-in cabinet, state BJP president Madan Kaushik and its general secretary (organisation) Ajeya Kumar handed to the ministers copies of the party’s vision document for Uttarakhand.

Dhami said all the commitments made in the vision document will be fulfilled.

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