By Karan Thapar

In an interview focused entirely on the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code’s treatment of live-in relationships, one of the most highly regarded former judges of the Supreme Court has said: “It’s a bad law, it’s arbitrary, it has a lot of gaps in it which can be misused”. Justice Madan Lokur says that at least four or five of the UCC’s stipulations regarding live-in relationships will cause “huge harassment of innocent people”.

In a 30-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Justice Madan Lokur began by questioning the purpose of bringing live-in relationships under the Uniform Civil Code. “Frankly, I do not know why live-in relationships have been brought into the UCC. What’s the purpose?” He asked: “If two people are together in a relationship how does it cause any problem to anybody?” He added: “Why are you legislating on this? Why bring in the executive?”

Justice Lokur identified several instances when the UCC will lead to harassment of innocent people.

In the interview, Justice Lokur said the requirement to register a live-in relationship within one month is simply harassment. He said “jail is too much if you don’t register”.

A second instance of harassment is the clause which says the Registrar can deny permission for a live-in relationship. Justice Lokur called it “very strange”. He said: “what kind of enquiry will the Registrar conduct?” For instance, he asked, how will the Registrar establish that the two people are not previously married? He also pointed out that there is no provision for appeal if permission is denied.

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