Uniform Civil Code: Regulation of live-in relationships regressive - The Tribune India

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Uniform Civil Code

Regulation of live-in relationships regressive

Uniform Civil Code

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock file photo



THE BJP has set the ball rolling for the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, with party-ruled Uttarakhand becoming the first state to pass a Bill in this regard. The legislation proposes a common law on marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for all citizens — irrespective of their religion — in the hill state. In its manifesto for the 2019 General Election, the BJP had promised to draft a UCC for the entire country, ‘drawing upon the best traditions and harmonising them with the modern times’.

The Uttarakhand government’s landmark step is in consonance with Article 44 , which lists the Uniform Civil Code as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. The Bill stipulates that a marriage between a man and a woman can be solemnised if ‘neither party has a spouse living at the time of marriage’, thus effectively banning the feudal, unfair customs of polygamy and polyandry. It also has the provision for remarriage after divorce, provided no appeal is pending. These measures can go a long way in bringing about gender equality and protecting the rights of women in particular. However, the Bill has struck a regressive note by proposing strict regulation of live-in relationships. The legislation makes it mandatory for both partners to submit a statement to the registrar on their relationship within a month after they start living together, failing which they will face a prison term of up to three months or a fine, or both. This harsh provision runs the risk of being misused to target live-in couples.

Even as other BJP-ruled states are likely to go the Uttarakhand way sooner or later, the Bill needs to be fine-tuned to make it equitable in totality. The UCC is a must to ensure pan-India uniformity of civil laws while respecting religious and cultural diversity, but its nationwide implementation is a huge challenge. The onus is on the BJP to convince the people and the Opposition that its move is driven by social justice and public welfare, not political or electoral considerations.

#BJP #Lok Sabha #Uniform Civil Code UCC #Uttarakhand


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