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Uttarakhand becomes first state to pass UCC Bill

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The Uttarakhand Assembly on Wednesday passed the Uniform Civil Code by a voice vote, the first such move by any state after Independence

DEHRADUN, Feb 7: The Uttarakhand Assembly on Wednesday passed the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) by a voice vote, that could be replicated by similar legislations in other BJP-ruled states.
After the Bill was passed, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “The UCC will give the right to equality to everyone without any discrimination on matters like marriage, maintenance, inheritance, divorce etc. There will be no discrimination against women now. This will eradicate the injustice against them.”
With this, he said, the BJP has fulfilled a key manifesto promise it made before the 2022 Assembly elections.
The Bill was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesday, two days after the state Cabinet approved the final draft of the UCC.
Retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, who headed the government-appointed panel, had drafted the 749-page report which contains several recommendations.
The panel collected 2.33 lakh pieces of written feedback online and organised more than 70 public fora to discuss the Bill.
The panel members engaged with nearly 60,000 people to help develop the draft.
The UCC Bill recommends complete ban on polygamy and child marriage, a standardised marriageable age for girls across all faiths, and a uniform process for divorce.
These recommendations are aimed at fostering gender equality and social cohesion. However, this law will not apply to tribal communities.
The Bill also mandates the registration of any live-in relationship within the state’s jurisdiction, regardless of whether the man and woman are residents of Uttarakhand.
UCC cannot be imposed: Prakash Ambedkar
Parliament cannot “impose” the Uniform Civil Code on citizens as the Constitution gives a person religious freedom, said Dr B R Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, who is the head of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), on Wednesday.
In case the Uttarakhand government implements UCC in the hill state, the choice will be with the people whether they want to live as per the code or as per their religion (personal law), he claimed. He also wondered if the state has the right to implement it in the first place.
Ambedkar was addressing a press conference in Nagpur.
To a query on the BJP-led Centre’s wish to roll out UCC across the country, Ambedkar said that Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution give a person the freedom to adopt a religious life as long as it doesn’t conflict with any fundamental rights.
Besides, the government cannot “impose” UCC unless it changes the Constitution completely, he said.
People will now have clarity over whether they want to accept UCC or follow their personal laws, he said.
Ambedkar wondered whether the Uttarakhand government has the right to bring in UCC. Even if the state implements it, people will have the choice of whether to accept it or live as per their religion, he said.
“Besides, all this is propaganda and nothing else,” he said.
The hill state’s small tribal community is exempted from the proposed law, which also mandates registration of live-in relationships.
Children born of live-in relationships will be considered legitimate and deserted women will be entitled to maintenance from their partners.
Coming just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, 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. (Agencies)

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