Rajat Sharma


AKBThe BJP government in Uttarakhand has fulfilled its promise by bringing the Uniform Civil Code bill in the Assembly. Once it is passed by the legislature and the President gives her assent, it will become law and Uttarakhand will become India’s first state to enact the uniform civil code. Muslim organizations have threatened to challenge the law in courts as they feel it goes against the Muslim Personal Law. The UCC Bill has fixed 18 years for women and 21 years for men as the minimum age limit for marriage, and any breach of this provision shall entail jail up to six months and/or Rs 25,000 fine. Some of the provisions of the bill are: Registration of marriages shall be mandatory, polygamy and bigamy have been prohibited, Halala, iddat, triple talaq as per Islamic Shariah have been banned, no divorce shall be allowed within one year of marriage, all live-in couples shall have to register within one month of relationship, by providing no objection certificates from their parents, registrar shall verify live-in details to establish validity of relationship, any child born of live-in relationship shall be considered legitimate, live-in couple must inform officials if they terminate their relationship, and any woman deserted by her live-in partner shall be entitled to maintenance. The bill, with seven schedules and 392 sections, focuses on four key areas – divorce, marriage, live-in relationship and inheritance. All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, Uttarkhand Imam Organization chief Mufti Raees opposed the bill and alleged that it was being enacted in order to harass Muslims. Congress has sought time to study the provisions of the bill. Here I want to remind: when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought a law to abolish triple talaq in 2019, similar objections were raised by Muslim clerics, but Muslim women welcomed the law. They supported Modi and the Muslim clerics became silent. Similar objections are being raised this time against the UCC bill. Those opposing the bill are not pointing at any legal infirmities. They are only raising two questions: One, it is targeted against Muslim community since, according to them, Islam gives equal rights to women and women have rights on the properties of their husbands and fathers. Islamic Shariah also prohibits divorcing wives without any valid reason. These provisions are already there in the UCC bill. Then how can the clerics say, it is against Islam? Two, this law addresses the question of live-in relationships. We have already seen how many live-in partners have suffered and some of them were brutally murdered, like Shradha Walkar. This law stipulates mandatory registration of all live-in couples, informing parents about the relationships has also been made compulsory. This law will dissuade those who cheat women by hiding their real identities and then discard them. Such a law will reduce atrocities on female live-in partners. Moreover, this law has not changed the meaning of ‘nikaah’(marriage), nor has it changed Islamic traditions, nor has it declared talaq as illegal. This law has not curtailed the rights of men. It has only strengthened the rights of women. I, therefore, think to describe this Uniform Civil Code Bill as anti-Islamic is illogical. It is akin to insulting Islamic teachings. I, however, feel that this law should not be passed in a hurry. There must be open debate on each and every provision of the bill. All stakeholders must get the right to express their views. Secondly, extra efforts must be made to convince the Muslims that this bill will also benefit their community and make their lives better. This law is for enforcing equal rights, and it is not meant to target any community.

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