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Uttarakhand Extends Uniform Civil Code Panel's Tenure By 6 Months

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Uttarakhand was an electoral promise of BJP. After forming government, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami formed a panel to study UCC's implementation in Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami
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The Uttarakhand government has extended the tenure of the expert panel preparing the draft of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for the state by six months.

An order by Uttarakhand's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Radha Raturi said the tenure of the panel has been extended till May 27, 2023. The panel is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. It was constituted in May.

The UCC has traditionally been among the major objectives of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with the construction of Ram Mandir and the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Besides Uttarakhand, the BJP has invoked UCC in other states as well, such as in Assam, Karnataka, and poll-bound Gujarat.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had announced the formation of the high-powered committee for UCC in March after the BJP won the Uttarakhand assembly election. 

What is Uniform Civil Code?

Uniform Civil Code (UCC) means that all people irrespective of the region or religion they belong to will be under one set of civil laws.

The UCC is mostly talked about in context of personal laws governing marriage, divorce, succession, etc. Currently,different religions have different personal laws. 

The UCC is mentioned in Article 44 of the Constitution of India. The Part IV in which it's mentioned contains Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs). These provisions are not enforceable but are meant to serve as the guiding principles for making laws.

"The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India," says Article 44.

What Dhami said on Uniform Civil Code?

Dhami in March said that Uttarakhand has a distinct cultural and religious heritage as a Himalayan state and Uniform Civil Code is therefore necessary.

"We are a Himalayan state with a distinct cultural and religious heritage. We also share borders with two countries. So, a Uniform Civil Code is necessary. There is a provision for it in Article 44 of the Constitution. Even the Supreme Court has expressed its dissatisfaction in the past on its non-implementation," said Dhami at the time. 

In a tweet, Dhami further said, "This will improve social equality, gender justice, and women empowerment in the state."

In May, Dhami said the UCC is being brought in "to provide uniformity to all religious communities".

"In accordance to our promise in the vision document at the time of election, an expert committee has been constituted under Honourable Supreme Court Justice (Retired) Ranjana Desai Ji for the implementation of Uniform Civil Code to protect the culture of Devbhoomi and to provide uniformity to all religious communities," said Dhami in a post on Facebook in Hindi at the time. 

Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code committee

The Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code committee is at present holding consultations with people in different parts of the state to take their suggestions on the draft of the UCC, former chief secretary Shatrughan Singh, who is a member of the panel, said.

Singh added that the committee will hold a dialogue with people in Dehradun and Srinagar Garhwal on December 20 and 16 respectively inviting their suggestions on the UCC draft. He further said it has already held consultations with people in this regard at 30 different places across the state and got around 2.25 lakh suggestions so far. 

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Though the public consultation process is in its last stages the committee will study the suggestions in detail before beginning to draft the UCC, said Singh.

(With PTI inputs)

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