Breaking News
Home / Siasat / Uttarakhand becomes 1st state to pass Uniform Civil Code Bill

Uttarakhand becomes 1st state to pass Uniform Civil Code Bill

Dehradun: The Uttarakhand Assembly on Wednesday passed the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) by a voice vote, the first such move by any state after Independence that could be replicated by similar legislations in other BJP-ruled states.

Subhan Bakery Instagram

After the Bill was passed, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “The UCC will give the right to equality to everyone without any discrimination on matters like marriage, maintenance, inheritance, divorce etc. There will be no discrimination against women now. This will eradicate the injustice against them.”

With this, he said, the BJP has fulfilled a key manifesto promise it made before the 2022 Assembly elections.

MS Education Academy

“This is a special day… The law has been made. the UCC has been passed. Soon, it will be sent to the President. We will implement it in the state as a law, as soon as the President signs it,” the CM said.

The Bill was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesday, two days after the state Cabinet approved the final draft of the UCC.

Retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, who headed the government-appointed panel, had drafted the 749-page report which contains several recommendations.

The panel collected 2.33 lakh pieces of written feedback online and organised more than 70 public fora to discuss the Bill. The panel members engaged with nearly 60,000 people to help develop the draft.

What is Uniform Civil Code

UCC in simple terms can be described as ‘one nation, one law’. It is a legal framework that proposes to replace personal laws of different religions regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance or succession and adoption.

It is important to note that, unlike civic and criminal laws which are the same for all citizens, UCC focuses on personal laws as they are governed by various religions. 

A brief history

The idea of UCC was first floated during British rule in 1864 when personal laws for Hindus and Muslims were framed. However, the British government decided not to ‘interfere’ with how different religious groups govern their issues pertaining to personal laws.

After independence, BR Ambedkar suggested the implementation of the UCC on the grounds of removing regressive and discriminatory Hindu laws against women. The debate led to the inclusion of a series of laws in the 1950s — Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu Succession Act, 1956, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, and Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

As mentioned in Article 44 of the Constitution, under the Directive Principles of State Policy of India, which says that the State “shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

Through the Hindu Code Bill, women could now inherit their father’s property, seek alimony in divorce and enjoy other rights. 

To govern their familial affairs as per Sharia, Indian Muslims follow the Muslim Personal Law. The Sharia, or Islamic jurisprudence, is based on the Quran and Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad).

In 1985, Supreme Court’s verdict on Shah Bano case, where the petitioners sought alimony, sparked the debate on UCC. Shah Bano was a 69-year-old Muslim divorcee, who had first filed a petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 1978, seeking alimony from her lawyer husband Mohd. Ahmad Khan.

Bano argued that under Section 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, a man was obliged to pay his wife during the marriage and after divorce so she could fend for herself.

Challenging the petition, Khan argued that the Muslim Personal Law did not recognise alimony for divorced women in Islam. Khan was supported by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board demanded the courts stay out of their matter.

When the case was heard in the Supreme Court of India in 1985, the High Court’s decision was upheld by the then chief justice of India (CJI) YV Chandrachud. Delivering the verdict, the CJI stated that Section 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, was applicable to every citizen, regardless of his/her religion.

The case was considered a milestone as it threw light on the discrimination faced by divorced Muslim women under the Muslim Personal Law.

UCC and its implications

If the UCC is implemented, the following areas in personal laws are likely to get affected.

  • Age of marriage: Under UCC, everyone, regardless of religion will have to follow a single compulsory age for marriage. This can cause confusion. Under Muslim law, a girl is ready to wed once she attains puberty. The legal age for marriage for men and women in Hindu law is 21 and 18 years. The 21st Law Commission, which had rejected the UCC, argued that this contributed to the stereotype that a wife must be younger than her husband.
  • Polygamy: The Centre argues that UCC can abolish the ill-treatment of Muslim women. Although polygamy is permitted in Islam, according to the National Family Health Survey 2019-2021 report, 1.9% of Muslim women confirmed a polygamic marriage as compared to 1.3% of Hindu women. The 21st Law Commission said that polygamy was an uncommon practice followed by Indian Muslims. It also noted that polygamy is often misused by people from other faiths who convert to Islam only to legally marry multiple times.
  • Adoption and custody of children: In Hindu law, an adopted child is equal to a biological child whereas the Muslim law follows kafala, which states that an adopted child is under the care and guidance of a foster parent. Regarding custody of children, a father is considered the legal guardian as per Hindu Law. If the child is born without the couple being married, then the mother is considered their legal guardian. The 21st Law Commission observed that although the Hindu law was codified to counter discrimination against women, custody of children largely remained a male-dominated area.
  • Divorce: In its report, the 21st Law Commission suggested a simpler divorce procedure as per the personal laws of various religious communities. The landmark Shah Bano (triple-talaq) case verdict, which makes a Muslim woman eligible for alimony until she is remarried, was a breather to many women facing discrimination and abuse in marriage.

Moreover, the Bill also mandates the registration of any live-in relationship within the state’s jurisdiction, regardless of whether the man and woman are residents of Uttarakhand.

Check Also

Rs 3 cr worth marijuana caught at Telangana-Karnataka border

Bidar: In a major operation near the Bhangur interstate check post, the Bidar district police …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *