Uttarakhand’s proposed Uniform Civil Code: Key points


Team Udayavani, Feb 6, 2024, 6:24 PM IST

Credit: PTI

Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, on Tuesday, introduced the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code in the state assembly. This proposed legislation aims to cover all residents of the state, excluding those belonging to the Scheduled Tribes listed under Part 21 of the Constitution.

The Uniform Civil Code, Uttarakhand, 2024 bill ticks off an important item on the BJP’s ideological agenda — a common law on marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for all citizens, irrespective of their religion.

Upon implementation, Uttarakhand will become the second state in India, alongside Goa, to adopt a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Previously, Goa stood as the sole state in the country with a UCC, irrespective of religion, gender, or caste, owing to its historical adherence to the Portuguese Civil Code dating back to 1867, a vestige of its colonial heritage.

Here are some of the provisions of the proposed law in Uttarakhand:

Applicability 

  • The bill applies to the whole of Uttarakhand and to people from the state living outside.
  • The state’s tribal population will not be affected.
  • “Nothing contained in this code shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribes… and the persons and group of persons whose customary rights are protected under Part XXI of the Constitution of India,” the bill says.

Marriage and Divorce:

  • The law sets the marriage age at 21 for men and 18 for women, while also prohibiting marriages within certain immediate family relationships.
  • It recognizes marriages under various religious forms and mandates the registration of marriages within 60 days, with penalties imposed for non-registration – including a three-month jail term and a fine of ₹25,000 for providing incorrect information during registration and a ₹10,000 fine for failure to register.
  • The bill makes it clear that a marriage between a man and a woman can be solemnised if “neither party has a spouse living at the time of marriage.” In effects, this bans polygamy and polyandry.
  • It also spells out the right to remarry after divorce or the nullification of any marriage provided, there is no appeal pending.
  • Dissolution of marriage requires a court order, with penalties including up to 3 years in jail for violating this condition.
  • Divorce pleas must be filed in specified courts, with a decree issued within 60 days, and both spouses are entitled to alimony and maintenance rights.
  • The bill also deals with the issue of marrying when the spouses are related in some manner.
  • It gives the nod to marriages when the couple are “not within the degrees of prohibited relationship”. But it makes an exemption to “custom or usage” that permits such marriages – provided they are not against “public policy and morality”.

Live-in Relationship:

  • The law mandates the registration of all live-in relationships, with certain categories prohibited.
  • Like marriages, live-in relationships must be registered. The bill says the live-in partners must not be under18. But if any one of them is under 21, the registrar is bound to inform their parents or guardians.
  • The bill stipulates a penalty of up to a month in prison or a fine of Rs 10,000, or both, if the partners do not submit a statement on their relationship to the registrar within a month.
  • They will face a higher penalty if they submit false information.
  • There is also a provision to terminate a live-in relationship.
  • Children born of live-in relationships will be considered legitimate and deserted women will be entitled to maintenance from their partners.

Intestate Succession:

  • Equal property shares are designated for immediate family members in cases of intestate succession, with special provisions in place for Hindu United Family (HUF).
  • The state government appoints an authority to decide property sharing among claimants, ensuring a fair distribution process.

(with PTI inputs)

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