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Updated February 7th, 2024 at 19:07 IST

Love, Marriage & Law: How Uttarakhand's UCC Bill Will Shake Things Up

How the UCC bill will bring a big change in society. Read here

Digital Desk
UCC Bill Passed in Uttarakhand
UCC Bill Passed in Uttarakhand | Image:Republic Digital
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Uttarakhand UCC Bill: The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill, which proposes uniform marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance laws for all citizens irrespective of their religion in Uttarakhand, was passed in the state assembly on Tuesday.  Once it becomes an act, Uttarakhand will become the first state in the country after Independence to adopt the UCC. It has been operational in Goa since the days of Portuguese rule. Several BJP-ruled states in the country, including Gujarat and Assam, have expressed their keenness to follow the Uttarakhand UCC as a model. In this article, we're going to explore how the UCC bill will bring a big change in society that could affect different parts of the law, like Marriage, Divorce, Adoption, Inheritance Laws, and more. 

How Uttarakhand's UCC Bill Will Shake Things Up

Hindu community

The Hindu Marriage Act (1955) and the Hindu Succession Act (1956) would be amalgamated into the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), ensuring a consistent set of laws governing marriage, divorce, inheritance, and succession for Hindus. This integration would promote standardization and uniformity across these legal domains within the Hindu community.  

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Succession law: In the current Hindu Succession Act (1956), the deceased wife's property typically passes on to her husband's family, with her own parents and siblings having secondary claims. Additionally, the Act distinguishes between ancestral and acquired property. However, under the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), there will likely be changes in determining legal heirs and the process of property acquisition, altering the existing framework.

Inheritance law: In Hindu legal principles, full-blood relations hold precedence over half-blood connections according to Section 18 of the Hindu Succession Act. Additionally, the Act specifies individuals ineligible to inherit property based on various criteria. However, with the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), these rules are expected to undergo modifications, reflecting a shift in inheritance regulations.

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Adoption: The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will promote consistency, potentially granting communities currently restricted from legally adopting children the opportunity to do so. Presently, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (1956) exclusively applies to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, but the UCC could extend adoption rights to other communities, aligning with its aim of uniformity.

Hindu Undivided Family: The Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) functions as an independent legal entity with its own PAN card, enabling it to conduct business activities and invest in various financial instruments like shares and mutual funds. However, it currently does not qualify for tax exemptions of up to Rs 2.5 lakh. Should the government decide to eliminate tax, insurance, and investment exemptions, it could significantly affect numerous Hindu families concerning their loans and bank accounts.  

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Muslim Community

If a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is implemented, practices such as contract marriage (mutah), Nikah halala, misyar marriage, and polygamy would become invalid. Additionally, the minimum marriage age stipulated by Shariat law could be subject to alteration under the UCC.  

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Adoption: Currently, under existing laws, Muslims are not permitted to adopt a child. However, they have the option to become a 'Kafil,' providing for the maintenance and welfare of a child even without being their biological parent.  

Polygamy: At present, Muslim men have the legal right to marry up to four women simultaneously, while women do not have the same privilege. However, the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) would abolish polygamy, thereby removing the ability of Muslim men to legally marry multiple women.

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Divorce and Separation: The introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will establish more widely accepted procedures for both Muslim men and women to terminate their marriages. This move aims to achieve a better balance between the rights of men and women within the Muslim community.

Christian Community (Catholics)

Christian Marriage: At Present, Catholic law views Christian marriage as permanent and indissoluble, although some interpretations consider it a contract. However, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will introduce uniformity in the institution of marriage, streamlining practices across Christian denominations.

Divorce: While Catholic law doesn't acknowledge divorce, Christians have the option to file for divorce under the Indian Divorce Act. With the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), there will be consistent rules and procedures for divorce, ensuring uniformity across different Christian denominations.

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Succession: Under the current Succession Act (1925), Christian mothers have no legal right to inherit the property of their deceased children. However, this will undergo a transformation with the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), granting Christian mothers the right to inherit their children's property.

Sikh Community

The Anand Marriage Act of 1909 governs Sikh marriage laws, yet it lacks provisions for divorce. However, with the potential introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a standardized law for divorce is expected to apply to all communities, including Sikhs, ensuring uniformity across diverse religious groups.

Parsi community

Adoption: The implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is poised to influence adoption laws within the Parsi community. Presently, Parsi laws do not fully recognize the rights of adoptive daughters, while adopted sons face restrictions on inheritance rights. However, the UCC may introduce reforms aimed at rectifying these disparities and ensuring more equitable treatment within the Parsi community regarding adoption and inheritance.

Inheritance: Currently, if a Parsi woman marries outside her community, her children typically do not have the right to inherit the property of a deceased Parsi intestate. However, with the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), this rule is expected to change, potentially granting inheritance rights to such children regardless of their mother's marital status.   

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For Live-in Relationships

Register relationship: Once the Uniform Civil Code is enacted in Uttarakhand, individuals involved in or planning to enter live-in relationships must register themselves with district officials.

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Parental Consent Mandatory: For those below the age of 21, parental consent will be necessary to live together. This registration requirement also applies to individuals from Uttarakhand who are in a live-in relationship outside the state. However, live-in relationships will not be registered if they violate public policy and morality, involve a married or otherwise committed partner, including a minor, or if consent was obtained through coercion, fraud, or misrepresentation regarding identity.

Live-in Children Get Legal Rights: In the proposed section on live-in relationships within the Uniform Civil Code presented in the Uttarakhand Assembly, it is highlighted that children born from such unions will be legally recognized. Specifically, these children will be deemed legitimate offspring of the couple, ensuring their legal rights and status.

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Abandoned Woman Can Claim Maintenance: According to the draft of the Uniform Civil Code, a woman who has been abandoned by her live-in partner is entitled to claim maintenance. However, the draft does not explicitly define what qualifies as "desertion" in this context.

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Published February 6th, 2024 at 13:37 IST

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