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UCC draft focuses on rights of women: Uttarakhand panel chief

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The draft is likely to be the template that the union government will follow for a pan-India code.

The primary focus of the draft of the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for Uttarakhand , which will be submitted to the state government “soon”, is on “safeguarding the interests of women, children, and the differently-abled” and it covers issues including marriage, divorce, succession, guardianship, custody, and inheritance, former Supreme Court judge justice Ranjana Desai, who heads the expert panel mandated to prepare the draft said in Delhi.

The draft is expected to be submitted to the state government by the end of July and will likely be the template that the union government will follow for a pan-India code said people aware of the details on Friday.

“The report of the expert committee along with the draft code will soon be printed and submitted to Government of Uttarakhand,” Desai told reporters in Delhi.

UCC refers to a common set of laws that will subsume customary laws across faiths and tribes and govern issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and maintenance. In the Constitution, it is a part of the non-justiciable directive principles of state policy. In a 2018 consultation paper, the law commission said UCC was “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage”. Earlier this month, the law commission again sought views and suggestions on UCC from the public and recognised religious organisations. Moreover, some states such as Uttarakhand have set up panels to explore implementation of UCC.

The issue got a fresh fillip on June 27, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to BJP booth workers and made a strong case for UCC. “These days, people are being provoked by the UCC. You tell me, if there is one law for one person in a home, and another law for another person, can that house function?” Modi asked. As the crowd roared in denial, Modi said, “Then how can a country work with such a hypocritical system? We have to remember that even the Constitution of India talks of common rights.”

It has consistently been on the BJP’s manifesto.

The draft code that has been based on the feedback and inputs from a cross section of society, including individuals, political parties and statutory bodies is intended to have a set of common laws based on broad issues such as gender parity, matrimonial issues, adoption and inheritance, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named.

“The expert committee had detailed interactions with people of various castes, communities and faiths. The idea is to have unanimity in deciding the common set of laws for many areas without antagonising any group or religion,” this person added.

The Prime Minister’s comment has provoked reactions from across the political spectrum, with almost all parties, other than the BJP’s allies and the AAP and the Shiv Sena (UBT) opposing it. Tribal groups have also expressed their concerns over the move.

After making the implementation of the UCC, a key election issue in the 2021 assembly polls which it won to retain power in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttarakhand became the first to set up an expert committee to examine the possibility of drafting a code that would pave the way for having uniform set of laws for all communities and faiths to govern the issues of marriage, divorce, inheritance and asset division.

Referring to the process of eliciting suggestions for the draft code, Justice Desai said the committee “painstakingly” considered all shades of opinions and looked into the various statutes and uncodified laws including the statutory framework in select countries. “Besides, the committee has tried to understand the finer nuances of the various customary practices that prevail in different parts of the state.”

Declining to comment on the suggestions made in the draft, she said, it covers a wide range of issues.

The draft based on the suggestions from 2.5 lakh people and the committee also sought inputs from political parties, but according to the person quoted above, several parties including the Congress, the Communist Party of India and the Aam Admi Party did not respond

“There are many aspects that were examined, for instance there has been a demand to have a law on population control and against polygamy and polyandry as is still practised in some communities and castes. The panel is yet to arrive at a decision on these aspects…,” the person added.

The panel has also explored the issue of possible regulation for live-in relationships, inheritance laws for women across castes and raising the age of eligibility of women for marriage. “The committee received many suggestions from women and some even suggested raising the age of marriage to 25 from the current 18,” the person said.

source by : Hindustan Times

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