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In big push ahead of LS poll, law panel seeks public view on UCC

Sets 30-day deadline | Uttarakhand committee ends debate | To be first state to enact law

In big push ahead of LS poll, law panel seeks public view on UCC

Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, June 14

With less than a year left for the General Election, the government today intensified efforts to push the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as the Law Commission invited public comments on the subject while a panel constituted in BJP-ruled Uttarakhand wrapped up year-long consultations and promised to submit its report “as soon as possible”.

Issues under U’khand panel’s consideration

  1. At what age should girls marry; prohibited relationships like polyandry and polygamy
  2. Marriage registration and grounds for divorce
  3. Inheritance laws and division of property between relatives
  4. Maintenance mechanisms, need for law on elderly care by children
  5. Protection of rights of people in live-in relationships, same-sex marriages; adoption processes

The Law Ministry issued a notice saying the 22nd Law Commission has solicited views of the public and recognised religious organisations on the UCC within 30 days. The previous Law Commission too had examined the matter but as the last set of opinions it received was several years back, the 22nd commission has decided to re-engage people and deliberate afresh on the matter.

Last on agenda

With Article 370 and Ram Mandir promises fulfilled, UCC is the last of BJP’s three core agendas left

The Uttarakhand Government’s committee, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, meanwhile, held its last public consultation on the issue here today, and recorded views of residents living in Delhi-NCR. The term of the committee, which held 51 meetings (first on July 4, 2022), besides 37 district-level and three public consultations, expires on June 30.

States can legislate on ucc subjects

Entry 5 of the Concurrent List III in Seventh Schedule of Constitution gives powers to states to legislate on “marriage and divorce; infants and minors; adoption; wills, intestacy and succession; joint family and partition”. Sole condition is in case the Centre has a law on these subjects, state law should conform with it.

Asked if the panel would submit its report by June 30, Justice Desai said, “We will submit the report as soon as possible. I am sure it will be acceptable to all and once accepted, it will strengthen the secular fabric of India and remove social, economic and religious inequalities.” Amid realisation that national-level UCC legislation could require time and greater reconciliation efforts across faiths, the ruling BJP is actively pursuing the strategy of bringing the UCC through states where it rules. Sources have told The Tribune that the Uttarakhand committee could submit its report by July 15, paving the way for the state to become the first in India to enact a UCC legislation. It could serve as a template for other BJP-ruled states with Gujarat and UP already having formed panels on the issue. Nationally, the government has said it would go by other Law Commission‘s guidance on the UCC.

It is learnt the Law Commission could be expediting its report with its members recently holding a formal meeting with the Uttarakhand committee, which has covered the maximum ground on the subject.

BJP sources indicate that some party-ruled states were on course to implement the UCC before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections even as national-level consultation progresses through the Law Commission. Uttarakhand panel member Shatrughan Singh today said the committee’s mandate was to examine laws regulating personal civil matters of the state residents.

The committee is likely to recommend an umbrella UCC legislation and is looking at the need to bring uniformity given the variations in laws governing marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoptions, succession and guardianship across faiths.

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