Uttarakhand UCC Bill: Why Leave Out Tribals or Legalise Live-In Relationships, Ask Critics sattaex.com

The Uttarakhand cabinet passed the Uniform Civil Code Bill on Sunday, paving the way for the state to be the first in India to have one. A special four-day session of the Assembly from Monday has been called by the Pushkar Singh Dhami government to table the legislation, setting off intense debate across the state about the impact of the civil code.

“Today in the Cabinet meeting, we passed the proposal to bring the legislation on the Uniform Civil Code in the upcoming Assembly session,” Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said after chairing the meeting at his official residence on Sunday.

The final draft of the UCC, running into 740 pages in four volumes, was submitted to Dhami recently by a five-member panel headed by retired judge of the Supreme Court Ranjana Prakash Desai.

Mixed Reactions

Outside IIT-Roorkee, News18 caught up with city residents from different walks of life. While some like teacher Tushar Arora called the Dhami government ‘s move a “political ploy” ahead of Lok Sabha elections, students like Geetendra Saini argued that this was a much-needed push for women’s rights.

Sati pratha was also once legitimised in the name of god, but we realised how wrong it is to get a woman to burn on her husband’s pyre. Similarly, all arguments being made to justify anti-women laws and rules in personal laws will also be acknowledged soon as laws that needed to go,” Saini said.

Political activist Pooja Nanda, a BJP supporter, agreed. “As a woman, I welcome this. It is a great move for women across communities.”

Tushar Arora, who supports the Congress ideology, said: “This is an attempt to divide Hindus and Muslims. Under the Directive Principles of State Policy, the government could have given equal rights to women without bringing in UCC. But ahead of Lok Sabha elections, this is a political plank to divide people.”

The proposed Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand could make personal laws dealing with polygamy, marriage, inheritance and adoption infructuous.

Muslim women could get adoption rights. Polygamy could be criminalised and marriage age for girls could be fixed across communities at 18 and 21 for girls and boys, respectively.

Reports suggest that Uttarakhand, which has over 2% tribal population, could keep Scheduled Tribes out of the purview of UCC. Nayyer Kazmi, AIMIM state president, asked: “Why are tribals being kept out; how is this uniform? Is this not just a way to target Muslims and their personal laws?”

Poet Afzal Mangalori, however, refused to see the proposed law as anti-Muslim. “There is no major opposition to what is being proposed. We are waiting for the final text of the bill, but from what media is reporting about the proposed provisions, most people are willing to keep an open mind,” he said.

What About Live-In Couples?

According to sources, the five-member panel that drafted the bill has proposed that live-in couples register themselves. Cutting across communal lines, this proposal is unpopular as critics say it encourages such relationships.

Liaqat Ali, a Roorkee resident, said: “The proposal for registration of live-in couples is wrong. The government should do away with this system fully. Why are they giving it legal backing?”

In Haridwar’s Harki Pauri, Pandit Pawan Krishna Shastri agrees. “This live-in related law is western influence. We should discourage it rather than get couples to register themselves,” he said.

In Haridwar’s Harki Pauri, the Uniform Civil Code dominates discussions among residents and tourists alike. (News18)

Soni Ror, a social worker, however, disagrees. “Raja ki zimmedari hai praja ka dhayan rakhna. With changing times, law must change. Today, live-in relationships are in, but look at what happened to Shradha Walkar. If live-in was registered, she may have lived. People should have fear of law,” he said.

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