In a landmark move, the state assembly of Uttarakhand has approved a groundbreaking Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill that aims to standardize marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance laws across all religious communities, sparking both applause and controversy.
The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by the state governor and the Indian president, has raised concerns among Muslim leaders and minority groups, who view it as an infringement on their religious rights and traditions.
Controversy Over Uniformity in Personal Laws
The proposed legislation, championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seeks to introduce a single law applicable to all religions, effectively abolishing the existing separate legal frameworks governing personal matters like marriage and divorce.
Critics argue that the UCC initiative, although framed as a measure to promote uniformity and gender equality, disproportionately impacts minority communities, particularly Muslims, who fear that their religious customs and practices will be undermined.
Stringent Measures and Public Response
One of the most contentious provisions of the bill is the requirement for couples in live-in relationships to register with authorities, with violators facing potential imprisonment or fines. This has sparked concerns among couples like Sanjay Agnihotri, who fear unwarranted scrutiny and interference in their personal lives.
Despite opposition from certain quarters, proponents of the bill argue that it will bring much-needed consistency and fairness to legal matters concerning marriage, divorce, and inheritance, benefiting women and marginalized communities.
The passage of the UCC bill in Uttarakhand marks a significant step in the BJP’s long-standing agenda to implement a uniform legal framework for personal matters. With similar initiatives underway in other BJP-ruled states and at the national level, the debate over the UCC’s implications for religious freedom and gender equality in India is likely to intensify in the coming months.