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Experts Divided On If State Govt Enact Uniform Civil Code

Article 44 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Experts Divided On If State Govt Enact Uniform Civil Code
Experts Divided On If State Govt Enact Uniform Civil Code

Experts are divided on whether a state has the power to bring a law on uniform civil code, a day after Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said if re-elected the BJP will set up a panel to prepare a draft of such a code.


Constitution expert and former Lok Sabha secretary general P D T Achary told PTI that both the Centre and the states are empowered to bring such a law as issues like marriage, divorce, inheritance and property rights come under the Concurrent List of the Constitution. But former Union Law Secretary P K Malhotra was of the view that only the central government can bring such a law by moving Parliament.

Achary said state assembly can make laws for the community living in that state. "That means local variations can be recognised through a law made by the state government," he said. He said a uniform civil code covers personal laws -- statutes on marriage, divorce, inheritance and property rights.


But Malhotra opined that since Article 44 of the Constitution refers to all citizens throughout India, only Parliament is competent to make such a law. 


Responding to a question on Goa having a uniform civil code, Malhotra said according to his understanding, the law was already in existence before Goa became part of India.


Article 44 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.


Dhami had on Saturday said the panel on Uniform Civil Code will comprise legal experts, retired people, intellectuals and other stakeholders. The state goes to poll on Monday.


The ambit of the committee will cover issues related to marriage, divorce, landed property and succession, Dhami had said in a video statement. The uniform civil code has been a part of the BJP's successive election manifestos.


Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had recently told a BJP MP in a letter that given the "importance" of the subject of a common code, sensitivity involved and the need for an in-depth study of the provisions of various personal laws governing different communities, a proposal to examine issues relating to uniform civil code and to make recommendations were forwarded to the 21st Law Commission. However, the term of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31, 2018.


"The matter may be taken up by the 22nd Law Commission of India," Rijiju had said while responding to the issue of the need for a uniform civil code raised by the member in the Lok Sabha. 


After detailed research and many consultations held over two years, the 21st Law Commission had issued a consultation paper on reforming family laws in India.  The law panel advises the government on complex legal issues.

With PTI inputs.

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