Uttarakhand's Uniform Civil Code: Highlights

8 Feb 2024  Read 828 Views

Uttarakhand becomes the first state to clear the Uniform Civil Code Bill post-independence. The UCC will bring together personal laws related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other familial matters across all religious communities. In this blog, you will further get to know highlights of UCC and issues of adopting the UCC in Uttarakhand.


What is the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?

  • Currently, different communities have their own laws governing things like marriage, inheritance, and adoption based on their religious texts and customs.

  • The UCC wants to replace this diverse system of personal laws that are currently based on different religions' teachings and traditions in India with a unified code.

  • This would mean that instead of different laws governing individuals based on their religion, there would be one set of rules for all Indian citizens, regardless of their religion. So far, there’s another state that had UCC, which was enacted by the Portuguese in 1867. You can read more about this State in this blog.

Is UCC mentioned in the Constitution?

Yes, the UCC is in the Indian Constitution, but with a twist! The Uniform Civil Code is a proposed directive principle given under Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy as  “The State shall endeavour to secure the citizen a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”. 

Article 44 says that the state "shall endeavour to secure" a UCC. This means it's not mandatory, but the government is encouraged to work towards it. 

If you want to read more about UCC, then click here

Why Uttarakhand's UCC is in the News?

According to the Constitution's Seventh Schedule, both the central government and state legislatures have the authority to make laws about family matters. Using this authority, the Government of Uttarakhand introduced its own Uniform Civil Code in the State Assembly. This draft of the UCC was presented to Mr Pushkar Singh Dhami, CM of Uttarakhand, by a five-member committee led by retired Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai. 

Now, this Uniform Civil Code Bill has been passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly. Once the Bill gets the Governor’s consent, Uttarakhand will be the first state since independence to have a single law that applies to all residents of Uttarakhand, regardless of their religion, covering marriage, divorce, land, property, and inheritance.

The Uttarakhand’s UCC focuses on gender equality by treating men and women equally in matters such as inheritance and marriage.

Uttarakhand's UCC Bill 2024: Key Features

  • Equal Property Rights For Sons And Daughters

The bill makes sure that both sons and daughters have the same rights to inherit property. This means that whether a family has a son or a daughter, they are treated fairly when it comes to getting what they should inherit from the family.

  • Complete Ban On Child Marriage

Another important provision in the UCC is that it strictly prohibits child marriage, regardless of someone's religion. This means that no matter what faith someone follows, they cannot legally get married if they're still a child.

  • Legal age of marriage for Men and Women

As per the Bill marriageable age for men is 21 and for women is 18. The Bill retains the “custom” exception from the Hindu Marriage Act for married parties within the “degrees of prohibited relationships”.

  • Prohibition on Polygamy 

In Section 4 of the Bill, a man or a woman can get married when "Neither person can already be married when they want to get married again," which means they can't have two spouses at the same time.

  • Ending The Difference Between Legitimate And Illegitimate Child

The bill aims to abolish the difference between children who are born within marriage and those born outside of it when it comes to inheriting property. All children, regardless of how they were born, should be seen as the real children of their parents.

  • Inclusion Of Adopted And Biologically Children

The UCC bill treats all children equally, whether they're adopted, born through surrogacy, or born with the help of assisted reproductive technology, like in vitro fertilization (IVF). This means that regardless of how they came into the family, they have the same rights and are treated like biological children. 

  • Doesn’t Apply to Schedule Tribe

This Bill’s provisions will not apply to tribal communities. The Bill says this code doesn't affect Scheduled Tribes and people whose traditional rights are protected under the Constitution of India.

  • Registration Of Live-In Relationships

The Bill requires couples living together in Uttarakhand to inform the authorities about their live-in relationship within the state. If they don't, they could be punished with up to three months in jail or a fine of up to Rs 10,000, or both.

  • Children Born Of Live-In Relationships Will Be Considered Legitimate

Notably, the Bill clarifies that all children born out of void and voidable marriages and live-in relationships will be deemed legitimate and will have the same rights as children born within wedlock.

  • Ban Practices such as Halala, Iddat, and Triple Talaq

The UCC recommends strong punishments for practices like triple talaq, iddat, and halala, which relate to marriage and divorce in Muslim personal law.

  • Equal Property Rights After Death

After someone’s demise, this bill ensures that both the spouse and children get an equal share of the property. It also says that the parents of the person who died have the same rights as well. 

Controversies around The UCC in Uttarakhand

  1. Tribal people in Uttarakhand, who are 2.9% of the population, are worried about the UCC. One group called the Van Gujjar tribe is especially concerned about how it might affect their traditions.

  2. The UCC may infringe upon the fundamental rights of religious freedom and personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It could limit the rights of religious groups and minorities. 

  3. There are concerns that UCC could make India less diverse in its religions and cultures. Some critics say that the UCC does not respect the diversity and pluralism of India, and imposes a uniform code that may not suit the customs and practices of different communities.

Conclusion

Soon, the UCC will be implemented in Uttarakhand. However, it will remain a topic of discussion and debate with valid arguments on both sides. It's not just about law, but about balancing individual rights, cultural identities, and national unity. Finding a solution that respects diversity while promoting equality and justice remains a work in progress.

About the Author: Anirudh Nikhare | 7 Post(s)

Anirudh did his Bachelor's in Law and has practical experience in IPR, Contracts, and Corporate. He is your go-to legal content writer turning head-scratching legal topics into easy-to-understand gems of wisdom. Through his blog, he aims to empower readers with knowledge, making legal concepts digestible and applicable to everyday life.

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