President Droupadi Murmu has approved Uttarakhand’s Uniform Civil Code Bill, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami announced on Wednesday.

With this, Uttarakhand became the first state to have introduced a Uniform Civil Code after Independence. A common civil code has been in place in Goa since the Portuguese Civil Code was adopted in 1867.

A Uniform Civil Code is a common set of laws governing marriage, divorce, succession and adoption for all citizens. Currently, such personal affairs of different religious and tribal groups are based on community-specific laws, largely derived from religious scripture.

The aim of such uniformity is to ensure equality and justice for women who may otherwise be denied their rights under patriarchal personal laws, Uttarakhand’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has claimed.

In a social media post on Wednesday, Dhami said that with the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code law in the state, “the oppression of women will be cured” along with providing equal rights to all citizens.

“It is a moment of great joy and pride for all the people of the state that the Uniform Civil Code Bill passed by our government in the Uttarakhand Assembly has been approved by the respected President Droupadi Murmu,” Dhami wrote.

He added: “As per the vision of respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our government is determined to protect the interests of the citizens and maintain the original nature of Uttarakhand.”

On February 5, the state Cabinet approved the Uniform Civil Code draft report in a meeting chaired by Dhami.

The Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Bill on February 7 by voice vote after a debate spanning two days. Lieutenant General Gurmit Singh, the state’s governor, approved the legislation on February 28.

After the Bill was passed by the Assembly, the state government on February 24 formed a Rules Making and Implementation Committee, reported The Indian Express. The committee is tasked with making rules for the state’s Uniform Civil Code, which will define how the sections mentioned in the Bill would be implemented.

The committee is headed by retired Indian Administrative Service officer and Uniform Civil Code draft committee member Shatrughan Singh. Other members of the draft committee include Surekha Dangwal and Manu Gaur, along with Uttarakhand Police ADG (Administration) Amit Sinha and Uttarakhand Resident Commissioner Ajay Mishra.

The introduction of a common personal law has for long been on the BJP’s agenda, and several states ruled by the party have been making advances towards implementing it.

In its campaign for a Uniform Civil Code, the BJP has mainly targeted Muslim personal law, arguing that it discriminates against women as it allows Muslim men to practice polygamy, inherit a greater share of property, initiate divorce and deny alimony.

However, the legal experts have said that the bill is primarily drawn from Hindu personal law and could lead to the erasure of the personal law practices of minority communities.

The Uttarkahand Mahila Morcha, a collective of women’s groups, had criticised the bill for “[following] the Hindu law template.” In a public statement, it noted that the bill is “completely silent on the application of Christian family law and Parsi family law”, describing this as “legally untenable”.

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