As per the Uttarakhand Civil Code, admit a live-in relationship or risk a maximum of three months in jail.

With the exception of the Scheduled Tribes, this measure would grant all people, regardless of faith, a common law governing marriage, divorce, property, and inheritance. This law would be the first of its kind to be enacted in an Indian state following independence.

The administration of Uttarakhand presented the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill before the state legislature on Tuesday. Should it be approved, this will be the first piece of legislation of its kind since Independence. With the exception of the Scheduled Tribes, the law suggests a common standard for marriage, divorce, land, property, and inheritance for all residents. This bill would be the first of its kind to be enacted in an Indian state following independence.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami introduced the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code (UCC) 2024 bill in the House and, in a symbolic move, carried a replica of the original Constitution into the chamber.

The Treasury benches applauded the bill’s introduction with cries of “Jai Shri Ram,” “Vande Mataram,” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” as well as with desk banging.

In addition, the UCC stipulates that anybody who does not register a live-in relationship within 30 days will be imprisoned for three months. Offspring resulting from these kinds of partnerships will be regarded as legal. The Treasury benches erupted in cheers and patriotic chanting as Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami unveiled the law. The opposition, on the other hand, was unhappy because they felt they hadn’t had enough time to review the contents of the law.

The bill requires partners in a live-in relationship to provide a statement of their relationship in the prescribed format to the Registrar in whose jurisdiction they are residing, under sub-section (1) of section 381, regardless of whether they are residents of Uttarakhand.

According to the law, anyone who continues a live-in relationship for longer than a month without registering it faces up to three months in jail, a fine of up to Rs 10,000, or both.

Any individual who gives false information to the Registrar regarding a live-in relationship may face a greater punishment in addition to a three-month jail sentence.

A woman in a live-in relationship who experiences her partner’s desertion has the right to file a maintenance claim against him. To do this, she can go to a competent court that has jurisdiction over their previous residence.

Leader Yashpal Arya charged that the administration had broken parliamentary customs by avoiding a full discussion of the measure. Members of the opposition were assured they would have more time to review the measure despite this tension. The opposition also voiced dissatisfaction with the house’s decision to postpone Question Hour in order to consider the UCC bill, which prevented them from bringing forward matters of public concern.

All Uttarakhand citizens, whether they reside inside or beyond the state borders, are covered by the bill. It does not, however, include the Scheduled Tribes. Relationships based on force or fraud, especially those involving minors, will not be classified as live-ins. In addition to three months in jail, the law also increases the penalties for providing false information while registering a live-in relationship.

The day the bill is published in the gazette is when it will go into effect. After putting the UCC into effect, Uttarakhand would be the first state since independence, keeping a major pledge made by the BJP in the run-up to the 2022 Assembly elections. Assam and Gujarat, two more BJP-led states, have expressed interest in adopting this approach.

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