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9th February 2024 (11 Topics)

Towards uniformity

Context

Uttarakhand Assembly adopted a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), aiming to standardize laws related to marriage, divorce, and succession across all communities. The given brief critiques certain provisions of the UCC, particularly concerning live-in relationships, registration, and associated penalties, highlighting concerns about individual rights and privacy.

Problematic Provisions:

  • Intrusive Registration Requirement: The UCC introduces controversial elements like formalizing live-in relationships through mandatory registration, leading to intrusive inquiries and unnecessary deprivation of liberty.
  • Violation of Individual Rights: While it offers benefits like legitimizing children from such relationships and ensuring maintenance, the imposition of registration and verification infringes upon individual rights and personal autonomy.
  • Social Hostility and Legal Enforcement: This unwanted incursion into citizens’ personal lives, coupled with the threat of a three-month prison term for non-registration, violates fundamental rights and fosters social hostility.

Historical Perspectives:

  • Debates during Constitution Making: The debate around UCC dates back to the Constitution-making process, with varied opinions on its potential impact on minority rights and women's equality.
  • Varied Recommendations of Law Commissions: While B.R. Ambedkar advocated for voluntary adoption initially, past Law Commissions have differed in their recommendations, with the current commission revisiting the concept and seeking public input.
  • Revival of UCC Discussion: These historical debates underscore the complexity of implementing a UCC, balancing the need for legal uniformity with the preservation of diverse cultural and social practices.

Progressive Aspects and Polarizing Discourse:

  • Inclusion of Progressive Measures: Despite criticisms, the UCC incorporates progressive measures such as eliminating regressive practices like iddat, talaq, and nikah halala.
  • Heightened Political Debate: However, it also triggers polarizing debates, particularly in the lead-up to elections, highlighting the need to prioritize justice and individual rights over mere uniformity.
  • Emphasis on Justice and Equality: The concept of justice should not be lost in the search for uniformity, which should be no more than an incidental consequence of equality, emphasizing the importance of a balanced approach to UCC implementation.
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