• The five-member team formed to frame the draft for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Uttarakhand is currently struggling to read and analyse over three lakh handwritten letters, 60,000 e-mails, and 22,000 suggestions uploaded on its website by residents of the hill State sharing their view and recommendations on “One law for all”.
  • Among the suggestions, which have mostly been received from tribal belts and rural and hilly areas, are policy interventions on “reverse inheritance” (parents to have rights over their offspring’s property), same age of marriage for both genders, and a total ban on polygamy and polyandry.
  • Speaking to The Hindu, a member of the panel said they were currently in the process of reading the approximately four lakh suggestions, which may take a month or possibly more time.
  • “We are trying to incorporate all the suggestions given by the people, especially related to gender equality,” the member said.
  • The State has a population of about one crore. Asked how an unbiased uniform law can emerge from the views of about 4% of the population (going by the number of suggestions received), a senior member said the exercise was not even needed to legislate if the government intended to do so.
  • “Asking suggestions from people is a healthy way to make laws. This 4% may look a small number but the suggestions we have received are great and worth incorporating,” the member added.
  • The panel has so far held 18 meetings at various places in the State, including at the last village in Chamoli district, Mana. People in Nabi, Gunji and Kuti villages of Pithoragarh district along the India-Nepal border have also responded. All these villages are in tribal-dominated regions.
  • The panel is going to recommence its public outreach to create awareness on the subject from November 9. “The tribal community was more aware of the UCC then those in the plains.  They wanted gender neutral laws for all, in matters pertains to marriage, divorce and succession, to name a few,” the member said.
  • Another member said elderly people in Pithoragarh told them that they had spent all they had on the education of their children and on sending them to cities but received nothing in return when they became old and helpless.
  • “They questioned us that if children have equal rights in parents’ income and property, parents should also be given equal rights [on their children’s property] so that they can also live a decent life as their children live,” the member said, adding that this suggestion would be included in the recommendations, along with another in which young men and women asked to have the same age for marriage.
  • “We have received suggestions to ban polygamy and polyandry, which too is common in the interior areas of the State,” the member said.
  • The expert committee was formed by the Uttarakhand government to examine ways for implementing a UCC. A website was launched in September, seeking views from the public by October 22.
  • The committee is headed by retired judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. The other members are retired judge Pramod Kohli, social worker Manu Gaur, retired IAS officer Shatrughan Singh, and Vice-Chancellor of Doon University Surekha Dangwal.


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