Uttarakhand makes tryst with destiny and history

By-Nirendra Dev

Uttarakhand makes tryst with destiny and history

Himalayan states do hit headlines from time to time. Now it is Uttarakhand. The small province with a population of 1.22 cores is India’s first state that has passed the Uniform Civil Code Bill. This is one of the most controversial laws in the country which even none of the big BJP ruled state Governments let alone Centre pass. Now Assam, Gujarat Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are making a beeline to introduce in their states and centre all praise for it.

The Bill will replace the old personal laws of all religions that govern marriage, divorce, succession and live-in relationships. It was passed in the state legislature amid the opposition’s demand to refer it to the select committee of the House. There could be a purpose including socio- political in making Uttarakhand, also affectionately called, the ‘Dev- bhoomi’ a role model for other BJP-ruled states.


1.    The same Laws for Marriage, Divorce and Inheritance for all irrespective of religion.
2.    No Gender difference between a son and a daughter; and the kid will be referred to in the law book as a ‘Child’.
3.    There will be equal Inheritance rights for both men and women.
4.    Strict prohibition to Child Marriage.
5.    Triple Talaq, Halala (two features of Muslim society) and also Polygamy now will stand criminalised

6.    Live In Relationship-A significant feature of the bill is the introduction of stringent measures that require the registration of live-in relationships. Couples failing to register their live-in status with district officials could face up to six months in prison or a fine of Rs 25,000 rupees or both.

But during implementation it will be difficult if a youth or middle-aged person for instance has a girlfriend and Live in partner belonging to a different caste etc than his and their families oppose the idea of them marrying. They could have relocated to a new town/ hamlet etc and started living as ‘partners’ without formalizing their relationship through marriage.

These may become one of the many complicated cases. There are certain complicated issues in the new Bill. It’s linked to sensitive Live- In relationships. Notably, children born out of live-in relationships will be considered legitimate and ‘Deserted women’ will be entitled to maintenance from their partners.

However, social activists are raising the bogey of Registration of Live In Relationships. The argument being, if it is ‘informal’; why there should be a formal registration.

And going into implementation -- it would even amount to taking ‘permission’ from the state for a live in a relationship. There is also a small contradiction but a crucial one. For women, while 18 years is allowed for marriage; for Live In relationship - the age is 21 for both male and female.

Tribal Angle and related matters: In Uttarakhand, for the state government and the BJP as a party enacting such a law appeared much easier as the state has near negligible 3 to 3.5 percent tribal population. As a matter of political and political decisions, the BJP had decided last year to keep Tribals out of the ambit of UCC law.

Opposition from Muslim leaders: “Basically, there is no use of such a kind of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) when you are yourself saying that certain communities, that are tribals, will be exempted from the Act. Then where is the uniformity? UCC should mean the same laws for all,” says Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali, a leader with the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board. 

AIMIM leader and lawmaker from Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi, goes a step further and says that it is a violation of Articles 25 and 29 to force us to follow a different system. Those trying to oppose the UCC also say Article 44 of the Constitution, asking for a Uniform Civil Code, clashes with Article 25 that assures the freedom to propagate religion. “It’s true the Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the State/ governments shall endeavour to implement a Uniform Civil Code throughout India. But Article 44 is a Directive Principle and thus need not be implemented or enforced by force as imposition,” says analyst Ramakanto Sanyal in West Bengal.

All India United Democratic Front President and MP from Assam, Badruddin Ajmal, came down heavily on the Uniform Civil Code Bill that was tabled in the Uttarakhand State Assembly, saying it should be “dumped in the dustbin”. Eminent Congress leader and a former Chief Minister Harish Rawat tried to put forward his argument. “If different states start interfering in the personal laws, then there is a possibility of the law being misused in various states. It can be used to indulge in vote bank politics by trying to secure the votes of one community against the other resulting in polarisation”.  

There is also an allegation that the Hindu-majority BJP ruled state has witnessed an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in recent months, including the demolition of Muslim shrines in which 6 persons have lost their lives so far in Haldwani.

Source: Himalayan News Chronicle