Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami with others holds a copy of the Constitution of India, at Vidhan Sabha Bhawan, in Dehradun on February 6, 2024. The Uniform Civil Code Bill, which proposes uniform marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance laws for all citizens irrespective of their religion in Uttarakhand, was tabled in the State Assembly. | Photo Credit: PTI


All the transient provisions in the Constitution, such as for language, reservation, special status to Jammu and Kashmir, or the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), were treated as transient because there was no unanimity at the time of the Constituent Assembly debates. Now, the BJP-led Uttarakhand government has passed the UCC Bill into law on February 7, 2024. Here, I deliberately skirt any potent argument against framing a law that even the Law Commission declined to recommend, but only examine objectively the features of the Act and whether the provisions are salutary in character, and if they lend themselves as models for replication across India.

Most personal laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, guardianship, and succession source their origin in religious texts. Religious practices influence civil laws and vice versa. As Law Minister, Dr Ambedkar brought, through his lucubrations, a draft for The Hindu Code Bill that advocated the elimination of the birthright to property, the rule of survivorship, half shares for daughters, the conversion of women’s limited estate into absolute estate, the elimination of caste in marriage and adoption, and laid down monogamy and divorce principles.

The Bill was allowed to lapse. Ambedkar could finally introduce the Bill on September 17, 1951, but only after it had first been divided into four parts to lessen opposition. The legislation was once again defeated, and Ambedkar resigned. In 1956, The Hindu Code Bill came into being in a modified form through four enactments: the Hindu Marriage Act; the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act; the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, and the Hindu Succession Act.

This story was originally published in frontline.thehindu.com. Read the full story here.