Amid the Hijab-Burqa controversy in the southern state of Karnataka, the public across the country is once again looking upto the Narendra Modi government for the implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to cull any such future problems. While the centre has remained rather dormant on the issue, the BJP government in poll state of Uttarakhand has announced that if re-elected, a committee to draft UCC will be constituted. Thus, making the Devbhoomi an ideal testing ground for UCC and its nationwide rollout.
On the final day of the canvassing process, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami was quoted as saying, “The security of cultural and religious heritage of Uttarakhand, its environment and borders is important not just for the state, but for the entire country. With that, soon after our oath-taking ceremony, the upcoming BJP government will form a committee of those with knowledge of the legal system, retired employees, prominent people from society and other stakeholders.”
He further added, “This committee will prepare a draft of the uniform civil code for the people of Uttarakhand. This UCC will be for equal laws on subjects like marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for people of all religions,”
Uttarakhand to set an example
Parts of Uttarakhand, particularly in Udham Singh Nagar bordering Western Uttar Pradesh are expected to become Muslim-majority regions by 2061. Between 2001 and 2011, Uttarakhand has seen a rather astonishing rise in the share of the Muslim population from 11.9 percent to 13.9 percent, a growth of 2 percentage points.
The Muslim population growth rate in Uttarakhand is more than that of the Hindu population. Uttarakhand, Kerala, and Haryana are among the larger states where the share of the Muslim population increased by more than 1 per cent.
Thus, UCC has become the need of the hour. CM Dhami understands it and wants to set an example for other states to follow. He said “Along with this, the immense spiritual and cultural recognition of devbhoomi will also be increased while keeping the environment secured. The UCC of Uttarakhand will also act as an example for other states,”
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What is UCC?
The naysayers of UCC should understand that it is not the demand of BJP, but it is mentioned in the constitution. Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a UCC for the citizens throughout the territory of India. It comes under Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).
A UCC is a comprehensive set of common laws for all the religions governing personal matters like marriage, divorce, adoption, succession, and others. It aims at ensuring equality among all religions.
Earlier in November 2021, the Allahabad High Court had highlighted that the UCC is mandatory. The single-judge bench of Justice Suneet Kumar had said that “A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws that have conflicting ideologies.”
The issue of UCC has been an ideological promise that the BJP has made to the country’s electorate time and again. In the BJP’s 2019 manifesto as well, the party committed itself to bring in UCC.
If there is any government that can implement UCC, it has to be the current Modi administration. After the abrogation of article 370, bringing UCC may be the next watershed moment for PM Modi and could very well secure a comfortable majority in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, the Uttarakhand experiment needs to be completed successfully for any of that to transpire.