India’s First State To Implement Uniform Civil Code

India's first state to implement Uniform Civil Code wo logo

Uttarakhand becomes the first state to pass the UCC Bill, also known as the Uniform Civil Code Bill. It was proposed under the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party government on 07 February 2024. Currently, the bill is sent to President Droupadi Murmu for her approval, after which it will become a law.

What is the Uniform Civil Code? 

On Wednesday, the state government passed the new Civil Code, replacing various religious and customary laws that had been in India since Independence in 1947. What surprised us the most was that Goa, being under a Portuguese Civil Code (governed by a UCC), did not pass any law. 

The Uniform Civil Code, or UCC bill, proposes a legal framework for all citizens to follow. The bill impacted civil concerns such as marriage, divorce, guardianship, and adoption of the state’s citizens. However, the code is not applicable to the Scheduled Tribes (ST) or Scheduled Caste (SC).

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami introduced the act on Tuesday, after which a discussion was held before the House approved it by voice. Now, Uttarakhand is the only state to regulate a UCC bill regarding various civil rights for all citizens, irrespective of their religion.

What did Dhami Say in Vidhan Sabah?

Addressing his gratitude, Chief Minister Pushkar Sign Dhami greeted the assembly. He added, “Today, this special Bill, which was long awaited by the people of the country, was passed in the Vidhan Sabha of Devbhoomi. I express my gratitude to all the members of the Vidhan Sabha,”.

Following this, he encouraged the assembly on UCC’s commitment to the state’s and country’s growth. He further added that the new law concerns “equality, uniformity, and equal rights.” 

Directing towards Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, the Uttrakhand CM said the bill is proposed to create equality for women. “The UCC will mainly remove the discrimination against women,” he added.

Framework Of Uttarakhand UCC Bill

The UCC Bill has made a compulsory registration of marriage and divorce, concerning retrospective application.

The Registration of marriages is open for public inspection to prevent bigamy and fraudulent marriages. This was mainly set up to affect inter-caste and inter-faith couples by making them up front for surveillance.

Given that, here are some prevalent features of the UCC Bill:-

  • Bans Bigamy or Polygamy (multiple marriages).
  • Restrains live-in relationships by rules such as compulsory registration and punitive measures.
  • Homogenizes the divorce process for everyone
  • Introduces steps for compulsory registration of marriages.

What Changes Were Included In The New UCC Bill?

The new UCC bill included changes in the country’s existing laws regarding civil issues and the political rights of citizens. It concerned subjects such as polygamy, polyandry, halala, iddat, and live in-relationships. 

The UCC bill gives equal rights to both genders in the community by giving them equal inheritance privileges. Furthermore, strict provisions have been laid out for the registration of live-in relationships. 

Every couple who is in live-in has to register their relationship legally. Anyone who fails to do so can end up in a six-month jail term or even be condemned with a fine of Rs. 25,000.  

Given that, here are some existing laws that met changes:-

  • Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954
  • Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  • Indian Christian Marriages Act, 1872
  • Indian Divorce Act, 1869
  • Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936
  • Shariat and Non-Shariat Muslim law by the abolition of the Muslim Marriages Act
  • Muslim Women (Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019
  • Muslim Women (Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986
  • Guardians and Wards Act (GWA), 1890

As for adoption, all citizens, whether Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, or Sikhs, can adopt under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956. Furthermore, they have rights for child adoption, irrespective of religion, under the secular Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015.

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