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Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024 UPSC NOTE

 Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code

  • On February 7, 2024, the Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024.

  • This purportedly consolidates a common law on marriage and property inheritance

  • The Bill only awaits the President’s assent to become enforceable law

  • A problematic feature of the Bill is the mandatory requirement of registration of a live-in relationship and its criminalisation, if certain conditions are not complied with. 

  • With this mandate, the proposed law will become the foremost weapon of the state to penalise consensual relations and violate individual autonomy.

  • The Bill, requires live-in partners to submit a ‘statement’ to the Registrar concerned

  • The Registrar has the powers to examine the statement and conduct an inquiry into the relationship. 

  • From a reading of the Bill, it appears that anyone can inform the Registrar of a live-in relation, which she can then act upon. 

  • She is empowered to examine the consent of parties, marital status, and the age of partners

  • Moreover, partners can be required to make a personal appearance and the Registrar can also refuse to register the relationship. 

  • Termination of a relationship also requires notice to be submitted. 

  • Another dangerous feature of the Bill, however, is the criminal penalty — of imprisonment or fine (or both) — if this statement is not filed

  • The couple will be penalised for the submission of false information. 

  • The Registrar will inform the details of the live-in relations to the police station whose jurisdiction governs the couple.

  • The Bill misses (or deliberately ignores) the foundational reason for a live-in relationship, which is that it lacks the formal structure and obligations of a marriage

  • Those who are living together, therefore, enjoy autonomy in their consensual partnerships, which a regulated marriage does not

  • Erasing this much-needed distinction between these institutions is irrational.

  • In a society that thrives on moral policing of young couples, the Bill, unsurprisingly, imposes a chilling effect on live-in partners and implicitly discourages such relationships

  • The involvement of the police accelerates this concern. 

  • Couples will be wary of entering into genuine relationships since a lack of compliance not only invites civil consequences, as regulatory laws routinely require, but also criminal ones.

  • The one-month limit (whoever is in a live-in relationship for more than a month from the date of entering into such a relationship without submitting a statement will be punished) also restraints intimacy in the most direct of ways

  • It infringes on free decision making and an expression of feelings, protected under Article 21, which lays stress on the right to a dignified life. 

  • Individuals are constrained by the provisions of the Bill while entering into live-in relationships, which impedes the ability to make the deepest personal choices.

2024 and its implications for live-in relationships

  • A democratic liberal state must have a clear policy on what it chooses to criminalise and what it does not. 

  • This policy must be in consonance with what the Constitution protects. 

  • The fact that social practices are undesired by a conservative majority is an insufficient reason for criminalisation.

  • As the philosopher Joel Feinberg recognises, “Indeed, everything about a person that the criminal law should be concerned with is included in his morals

  • Translating moral prejudices into criminal legislation leads to what is called ‘unprincipled criminalization’.

  • A major illustration of such penalisation was the law on adultery which was contained in Section 497 of the erstwhile Indian Penal Code

  • The law, as it stood, discriminated on the basis of sex by punishing only men

  • But another crucial feature of the law was that it criminalised consensual sexual relations

  • By doing so, it actively worked to prevent intimate association and an expression of sexual autonomy.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024 UPSC NOTE
Uniform Civil Code of Uttarakhand Bill, 2024 UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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