Final Uniform Civil Code draft for Uttarakhand recommends ban on triple talaq and halala; suggests tribals be kept out of ambit

UCC committee suggests legalising live-in relationships, equal rights in inheritance for women and men, minimum age of marriage for women at 21 years among others

Updated - February 03, 2024 01:26 am IST

Published - February 02, 2024 11:44 am IST - NEW DELHI

Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code panel head and retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai (second from right) and other panel members submit their report to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami (third from right) at Chief Sevak Sadan in Dehradun February 2, 2024.

Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code panel head and retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai (second from right) and other panel members submit their report to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami (third from right) at Chief Sevak Sadan in Dehradun February 2, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

The five-member committee constituted for drafting the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Uttarakhand handed over its final report to the State’s Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday.

The UCC draft, spanning around 750 pages and spread across four volumes, is written in ‘full’ Hindi and does not have a single word of ‘Urdu’ or any other language.

The committee has recommended strict punishment for triple talaq and nikahhalala practices, pertaining to Muslim personal laws and also suggested keeping the tribal community out of the UCC ambit.

As promised: CM

Speaking to media in Delhi, Mr. Dhami said that the Uttarakhand government is all set to bring the UCC law as promised.

“We had formed an expert committee under retired Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai to make a draft for UCC in Uttarakhand. This was our promise we had made to our people after forming the government in 2022. The submission of the final report is a step forward in fulfilling our commitment,” the Chief Minister said.

Sources in the government said that the UCC report will be tabled in the State Assembly starting on February 5 for discussion and it will be examined in detail before final implementation. The report will be discussed and passed in the State Cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on February 3.

Also Read | ‘UCC beneficial for Muslim women’ says Shayara Bano, who petitioned triple talaq case in Supreme Court

The recommendations

The final UCC draft has focused on all sections, be it gender equality or elimination of arbitrariness and discrimination, from uniform laws on property rights to adoption rules, a member of the UCC committee said.

“This is the first of its kind draft in the country in which not a single word of Urdu is used,” he claimed.

The member also noted that the Bill had recommended that no tampering should be done with the Schedule Tribes (STs), transgender rights, religious matters, and traditions.

The tribal population of Uttarakhand, which constitutes around 2.9 per cent of the total population, has been expressing unhappiness over the UCC since beginning.

“This draft has recommended strict punishment for practices like iddat, halala and triple talaq, that governs marriage and divorce in Muslim personal law. The draft has also advised ban on polygamy and polyandry,” said the member who added that the aim of the draft is not to ‘hurt’ any community but to ensure equal rights of women in marriages and property.

Among the other recommendation of the committee are to make live-in relationships legal but ensure mandatory registration of such couples. The draft also recommended the minimum age of marriage for women to be 21 years and women will have equal rights in inheritance as men. The committee has also recommended for uniform use of the existing laws under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act to ensure same adoption laws for all communities.

The hard work

The Uttarakhand government in June 2022 had formed a committee to examine ways for the implementation of UCC. The committee, headed by retired Justice Desai, also has retired Justice Pramod Kohli, social worker Manu Gaur (heading Taxpayers Association of Bharat), retired IAS officer Shatrughan Singh and Vice Chancellor of Doon University Surekha Dangwal as members.

The Chief Minister said that along with the launch of a web portal on September 8, 2022, the committee also invited suggestions from every section of the society for preparing its report. The panel received 2.33 lakh suggestions through various mediums which roughly equals about 10 per cent of the families of the State. The committee had convened 72 meetings to interact with about 10,000 people in Uttarakhand and those from the State living outside, to finally prepare the report.

The State has given four extensions to this committee in the span of around 20 months.

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