The Bill will not be applicable to members of the Scheduled Tribes, who are less than 3% of the state’s population.

 

The Uniform Civil Code 2024 Bill was passed by the Uttarakhand legislature on Wednesday, February 7. Besides other provisions, the ‘live-in relationship’ clause has caught national attention, sparking a controversy.

The draft UCC Bill’s third section has three main areas of contention. First, there is the need to register live-in partnerships; second, parents must be informed when a registration application is made if one or both partners are below 21 years of age; and third, there are repercussions for not registering.

The partners in a live-in relationship are required by Section 378 of the draft UCC Bill to submit a “statement,” an application for the registration of a live-in relationship. Upon notification of the statement, the registrar will record it, unless the partners are in relationships that are prohibited or the partners are minors (under the age of 18) or if one of the partners’ consent was obtained through intimidation, undue influence, fraud, or force.

The draft UCC law not only makes live-in relationship registration mandatory, but it also makes it illegal to not register a live-in relationship.

According to Section 387, partners who have been living together for more than a month are subject to fines of up to Rs 10,000 and up to three months in jail if they fail to register their connection.

A live-in relationship is defined in Section 3 of the draft UCC Bill, Subsection 4(b). It is a partnership that resembles marriage between a man and a woman who live together in the same home.

Experts claim that this clause poses constitutional issues regarding individual citizens’ rights to privacy and personal freedom.

The bill stipulates, breaking the relationship must also be announced in a way in accordance with the government’s regulations. In the scenario that a woman’s live-in partner deserts her, she is entitled to maintenance.

The Uttarakhand government’s UCC law, which requires live-ins to be registered, has raised concerns about its implementation in other states. Advocates argue that the law violates the right to privacy and the clause is contradictory as it allows couples to marry at the age of 18, but for live-in couples below 21 years of age, their parents must consent.

This could lead to forced marriages and increased divorce rates.

Advocates also question the ease of enforcing registration for transgenders and the LGBTQ+ community, who are often forced into live-in relationships due to a lack of proper social patterns.

Opposition Congress has argued that the law violates the constitution by forcing couples to disclose their relationships, which is against their fundamental right to privacy. They also argue that live-ins cannot be treated as marriages, as they are different in nature.

Sapna Kaushik, Advocate of the Supreme Court of India, posted on X, “Imposing registration on live-in relationships in Uttarakhand is concerning. While protecting couples is crucial, this approach may infringe on privacy. Let’s prioritize solutions that empower individuals while ensuring legal  safeguards.

“Why do you want to get into our personal lives?” a user posted on X.

“This criminalization of personal relationships will only feed vigilantes and fringe elements. Besides, it will bring further chaos and instability for vulnerable couples,” said another.

“We’re going back decades in social progress. Two consenting individuals cannot stay together now,” said another user.

Whereas chief minister of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, in an interview with PTI, said, “The provision has been added keeping the safety of youths in mind. For us, the safety of people living in live-in relationships is of utmost importance. We don’t want any untoward incidents to happen with them.”

Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami described it as a “historic moment” and said that his government had introduced the bill in the assembly, taking along all sections of society. “That historic moment is near for Devbhoomi when Uttarakhand will become a strong pillar of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat’,” he added.

Source: Siasat Daily