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UCC tabled in Uttarakhand Assembly

The ruling BJP government in Uttarakhand has tabled a bill that will bring in Uniform Civil Code in the state. However, ruckus in the assembly soon after meant that the bill could not be taken up for discussion and voting. The Uttarakhand assembly has been adjourned until 2 PM.

Many see the move by the BJP as a precursor to a pan-India roll out of a similar bill later.

Uniform Civil Code or UCC aims to provide the same rights to individuals across communities in their personal matters, such as inheritance and marriage.

India currently has community-specific laws in these matters, under which the laws that apply to a person depends on the community into which that person is born into.

For example, while a woman born in one of the Hindu communities can demand an equal share in her parents’ property, women born in Muslim communities cannot. This is because, under the personal law code applicable to Muslims in India, she is entitled to only half the share of her brothers.

Such differences also exist for men. A man born into, or converted to, Muslim faith can legally have up to four wives in India, but a Christian or a Hindu man cannot legally take another wife while he has another one alive.

The Uttarakhand UCC deals with many of these distinctions, and makes a single code available to persons of all communities.

As a result, a Muslim woman can — if she deems fit — approach the court seeking equal rights as her brothers in her ancestral property, and the state would be duty bound to ensure her that right.

The bill also bans polygamy. It is not clear how it deals with current families comprising one man married to multiple women.

Indian National Congress, which is the main opposition in the state, opposed the new bill, claiming that it will impinge of people’s freedom to lead alternative lifestyles in keeping with their beliefs, traditions and preferences.

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