The Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill

The Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill


The Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024, awaiting Presidential assent.


GS-02 (Government policies and interventions)

Mains Question:

Critically analyze the implications of the Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024, on individual autonomy and privacy, highlighting its potential impact on vulnerable couples and constitutional rights. (250 words)

Key Highlights:

  • The Bill mandates registration of live-in relationships and criminalizes non-compliance, posing a threat to individual autonomy.
  • It disregards the fundamental distinction between marriage and live-in arrangements, potentially discouraging the latter.
  • Criminalizing consensual relationships without principled grounds violates constitutional rights and may lead to discrimination against vulnerable couples.

 Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024

  • Applicability: The bill applies to all residents of Uttarakhand, except the tribal community, ensuring uniformity in civil matters.
  • Marriage Regulations: Marriage must be registered within 60 days, applicable to all residents, with penalties for non-compliance. Dissolution requires a court order, punishable by imprisonment.
  • Live-in Relationships: Compulsory registration regardless of residency, with penalties for non-compliance. Maintenance rights for women and legitimacy of children ensured.
  • Queer Relationship: Excluded from the bill’s scope, which pertains solely to heterosexual relationships, defining live-in relationships accordingly.
  • Prohibition of Bigamy or Polygamy: Strictly prohibits bigamy or polygamy, ensuring no party enters a new marriage with a living spouse.
  • Legal Recognition of Children: Extends legal recognition to children from voidable marriages and live-in relationships, ensuring equal property rights.
  • Inheritance: Guarantees equal property rights for sons and daughters, abolishing the coparcenary system and ensuring fair succession laws.
  • Implications of the Bill:
    • Positive: Promotes gender equality, simplifies legal processes, and fosters national integration.
    • Negative: Raises concerns about minority rights, potential constitutional challenges, and social tensions if not implemented sensitively.

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Mandating Registration and Criminalization
  • Arguments: Erosion of Autonomy and Privacy
  • Concerns with Uttarakhand UCC Bill

Mandating Registration and Criminalization:

  • The Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024, requires live-in partners to register their relationship with the Registrar.
  • Failure to comply with this mandate incurs criminal penalties, including imprisonment or fines.
  • The Registrar is empowered to inquire into the relationship, examine consent, marital status, and age of partners, with the authority to refuse registration.

Arguments: Erosion of Autonomy and Privacy

  • Live-in relationships are distinct from marriages, offering individuals autonomy in consensual partnerships. By imposing registration requirements akin to marriage, the Bill erases this distinction and infringes upon personal autonomy and privacy.
  • Such intrusion into personal relationships sets a dangerous precedent, undermining individual freedoms.
  • The Bill’s provisions create a chilling effect on live-in partners, discouraging genuine relationships. The involvement of law enforcement agencies exacerbates concerns, leading to apprehension among couples.
  • Moreover, vulnerable couples, such as inter-caste and inter-religious partners, may face increased harassment and social stigma, perpetuating discrimination.
  • Criminalizing consensual relationships reflects ‘unprincipled criminalization,’ where moral prejudices drive legislative action. Such laws, like the erstwhile law on adultery, interfere with personal liberties and intimate associations.

Concerns with Uttarakhand UCC Bill:

  • Privacy Concerns: Mandatory registration of live-in relationships could violate the right to privacy and dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • LGBTQIA+ Rights: Exclusion of queer relationships from the UCC may perpetuate discrimination and hinder LGBTQIA+ individuals’ rights and equality under the law.
  • Non-inclusivity: The exemption of tribal communities raises questions about equal treatment under the law, highlighting concerns regarding different legal standards within the same communities.
  • Surveillance Issues: Provisions related to surveillance could be misused to target couples from diverse backgrounds, potentially leading to intimidation and harassment.
  • Impact on Minority Women: Certain provisions may negatively impact minority and marginalized women, affecting their traditional practices and support systems.
  • Legal Challenges: Critics argue that the bill might infringe upon constitutional rights, particularly regarding religious freedom and equality before the law, potentially leading to legal disputes in the future.

Way Forward and Conclusion:

  • The proposed Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024, represents a concerning encroachment on individual freedoms and privacy. Rather than fostering a conducive environment for diverse forms of relationships, it imposes restrictive regulations that may deter genuine partnerships.
  • To uphold constitutional values of autonomy and equality, policymakers should reconsider the Bill’s provisions and ensure that laws respect the rights of consenting adults.
  • Upholding the principles of privacy and self-determination is essential in safeguarding individual liberties and fostering a pluralistic society.