The Uttarakhand government, in a bold and unprecedented move, has decided to bring in a law to govern live-in relationships.
A Bill regarding the same was recently introduced in the State Assembly by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
Sharing the news on X (formerly called Twitter), Mr Dhami said that in order to give equal rights to the citizens of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, a Uniform Civil Code bill would be introduced in the Assembly. He called it a ‘moment of pride’ for all the people of the state as Uttarakhand would now be known as the first state in the country to move towards implementing UCC.
The draft UCC Bill seeks to penalise the persons who do not register their live-in relationships with a prison term. The proposed legislation also deals with other aspects such as marriage, divorce and inheritance in Uttarakhand.
The draft bill was prepared by a five-member panel headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai. The committee handed over the UCC final report to Dhami on February 2.
The UCC has laid out regulations on what is permissible and what is prohibited in relationships across faiths, subject to personal customary laws.
As per the draft UCC Bill, those wanting to reside as live-in partners in Uttarakhand need to register their unions by giving a statement to the Registrar, who may or may not grant the registration if the relationship was flouting any of the conditions enlisted in the UCC.
The UCC has further given a list of relationships that fall under the “prohibited relationships” category, saying that a live-in relationship will not be registered if the partners fall under this category.
As per Section 385 of the draft Bill, a statement submitted to the Registrar will be forwarded to the officer-in-charge of the local police station for maintaining records.
It said if either of the partners was less than 21 years of age, this fact had to be informed to their parents or guardians.
If the live-in partners failed to inform the authorities and submit their statement, they will be served a notice. Criminal prosecution may be initiated against the persons and they may also be jailed, added the law.
The draft Bill has listed out three categories of punishments in case the couples did not comply with the law.
If they fail to submit a statement within one month of their living together, they can face a jail term of up to three months or a maximum fine of Rs 10,000, or both.
The Bill said if a couple submitted a false statement, it may attract the same jail term, but a higher fine amount of Rs 25,000, or both.