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The UCC Bill enactment in Uttarakhand



Uttarakhand has become the first state to enact the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in an attempt to replace its diverse religious laws and promote equality. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami emphasized the bill’s focus on “equality, uniformity, and equal rights”, especially for women. The law applies to heterosexual relationships within the binary gender framework but excludes most LGBT individuals. At the same time, the Scheduled Tribes and their protected customary practices will remain unaffected.


What is the Uniform Civil Code?

The UCC proposes uniform personal laws for all citizens, irrespective of religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Currently, diverse personal laws based on religious scriptures govern matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. The Indian Constitution guarantees religious freedom but expects the state to apply common laws for all citizens under its Directive Principles of State Policy.


What are the Key Features of Uttarakhand’s UCC Bill?

Some key reforms in Uttarakhand’s UCC bill include the abolition of the concept of “illegitimate children”, the criminalization of child marriage and unions within prohibited degrees, and the introduction of penalties for dissolving marriage through non-judicial means. Compelling or inducing remarriage conditions is also punishable.

One of the biggest highlights of the UCC bill in Uttarakhand is the requirement for unwed couples in a live-in relationship to register their relationships with the government within a month. Failure could lead to imprisonment or fines amounting to 10,000 rupees. This section has drawn criticism for the government’s “uncle mentality”, which is reflected in its tendency to intrude into citizens’ personal lives.


What does this mean for India?

The UCC is an important step towards equality in governance. The Uniform Civil Code highlights the intricate challenge of harmonizing religious freedoms, cultural diversity, and gender equality within India's legal framework. In navigating these complexities, inclusive dialogue and thoughtful consideration of diverse perspectives are essential.


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