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Registration of Live-In, Polygamy Prohibited: UCC Bill Passed in Uttarakhand

It makes Uttarakhand the first Indian state to pass the controversial law (post-1947).

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The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill, that was tabled in the Uttarakhand Assembly on Tuesday, 6 February, was passed by the House on Wednesday.

It makes Uttarakhand the first Indian state to pass the controversial law (post-1947).

"This law is of equality, uniformity and equal rights. There were many doubts regarding this but the two-day discussion in the assembly clarified everything. This law is not against anyone. It is for the women who have to face difficulty because of the social norms... This will strengthen their self-confidence. This law is for the holistic development of women... The bill is passed... We will send it to the President. We will implement it in the state as a law, as soon as the President signs it," Uttarkhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said after the bill was passed.

Details: The UCC Bill was tabled in the state legislative Assembly by Dhami on Tuesday amid chants of "Jai Sri Ram" and "Vande Mataram", according to a report by The Hindu.

  • Dhami reportedly entered the House with a copy of the Indian Constitution.

  • The Bill has been taken up for consideration and debate in the Assembly.

  • A special Assembly session was convened only for passage of the proposed UCC Bill.

Know more: The 192-page draft of the UCC Bill was reportedly prepared by a five-member committee that was appointed by the Uttarakhand government and led by retired Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.

Why it matters: The BJP had promised that it would implement the Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand if voted to power in the 2022 state Assembly elections. The UCC Bill becoming an Act would not only fulfill one of the BJP's major poll promises but could also prompt other BJP-ruled states such as Gujarat and Assam to follow suit.

  • Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami leaves from his residence with a copy of the Indian Constitution in Dehradun on Tuesday. 

    (Photo: PTI)

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What Is the UCC Bill? Key Highlights

The proposed legislation lays down a legal framework for marriage, divorce, succession, live-in relationships, and other related matters. Here are some of the highlights of The Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand, 2024:

1. Registration of live-in relationships: The Bill requires the registration of live-in partners, stating that any "child of the live-in relationship shall be a legitimate child of the couple." Any citizen failing to register their live-in relationship shall be punished with imprisonment of up to three months and/or fine up to Rs 10,000.

"It shall be obligatory for partners to a live-in relationship within a State, whether they are resident of Uttarakhand or not, to submit a statement of live-in relationship under sub-section (1) of section 381 to the Registrar within whose jurisdiction they are so living," the UCC Bill reads.

2. Polygamy banned: One of the conditions that the Bill lists for marriage between a man or a woman is that "neither party has a spouse living at the time of marriage." Thus, this provision prohibits polygamy among the residents of the state.

3. Doesn't apply to Scheduled Tribes: "Nothing contained in this code shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribes within the meaning of clause (25) of Article 366 read with Article 142 of the Constitution of India and the persons and group of persons whose customary rights are protected under Part XXI of the Constitution of India," the Bill reads.

4. On religious conversion: According to Section 25(1)(iv) of the Bill, one of the grounds for any marriage to be dissolved by the decree of divorce is if the other party has "converted to another religion to which the petitioner belonged."

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TIL: A version of the UCC has been operational in Goa since it was drafted into law by Portugese rulers, that is before India attained Independence.

Up in arms: Soon after the UCC was tabled in the House, protests by Opposition members erupted as they argued that they had not been given enough time to study the contents of the Bill.

  • "It seems the government wants to pass the Bill without a debate in violation of the legislative traditions," Uttarakhand Leader of Opposition Yashpal Arya was quoted as saying.

  • However, Assembly Speaker Ritu Khanduri assured the Opposition members that they would get enough time to study the UCC Bill.

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