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Rules for marriage, divorce, live-in relationships: Key features of Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand

The Uttarakhand government tabled in the Assembly the Uniform Civil Code Bill, which when passed will be the first such legislation to be implemented in any state after Independence. Let's take a look at some key features of the Bill.

Shashwat Bhandari Edited By: Shashwat Bhandari @ShashBhandari New Delhi Updated on: February 06, 2024 19:52 IST
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami with others
Image Source : PTI Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami with others holds a copy of the Constitution of India, at Vidhan Sabha Bhawan, in Dehradun as the Uniform Civil Code bill was tabled in the State Assembly.

Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code: Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday tabled the Uniform Civl Code (UCC) Bill in the legislative Assembly as the bill was taken up for the discussion. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the tabling of the UCC Bill, saying the Dhami government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fulfilling the promise made by "our ancestors". UCC is part of the "constitutional vision", BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kohli asserted. The bill proposes a common law on marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for all citizens, irrespective of their religion in Uttarakhand, excluding the Scheduled Tribes. Let's take a look at some key features of the Bill.

Conditions for Solemnizing/Contracting Marriage Conditions for marriage

A marriage may be solemnized (official religious ceremony)/contracted between a man and a woman, if:

  • Neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;

At the time of the marriage, neither party:

  • Is incapable of giving valid consent in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or
  • though capable of giving valid consent, has been suffering from a mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent so as to be unfit for marriage; or
  • Has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity;
  • The man has completed the age of twenty-one years and the woman the age of eighteen years;
  • The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship, unless the custom or usage governing one of them permits marriage between the two;
  • Provided that such customs and usage are not against the public policy and morality;
  • The marriage is not prohibited under any law in force.

Ceremonies for marriage

Marriage may be solemnized/contracted between a man and a woman in accordance with the religious beliefs, practices, customary rites and ceremonies including but not limited to "Saptapadi", "Ashirvad", "Nikah", "Holy Union", "Anand Karaj" under The Anand Marriage Act 1909 as well as under, but not limited to, The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and Arya Marriage Validation Act, 1937.

Registration of Marriage and Divorce

  • Compulsory registration of marriage solemnized/contracted after the commencement of the UCC.
  • The registration must be done within 60 days of the marriage.
  • A marriage solemnized/contracted in the State or outside the territory thereof, after the commencement of this Code, where at least one party to the marriage is a resident of the State, shall be registered.

Registration of marriage solemnized/contracted before the commencement of the Code:

  • Any marriage solemnized/contracted in the State between 26.03.2010' and the date of commencement of this Code (UCC), where at least one party to the marriage was/is a resident of the State at the time of the marriage/registration, shall be registered.
  • Provided that no marriage registered under the Uttarakhand Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2010 (Uttarakhand Act No. 19 of 2010) shall be required to be registered again under this sub-section.
  • Any marriage solemnized/contracted in the State before 26.03.2010 or outside the State before the commencement of the Code, where at least one party to the marriage was/is a resident of the State at the time of the marriage/registration, may be registered.

Period and procedure for registration of marriage

  • In case of a marriage solemnized/contracted in the State or outside the territory thereof after the commencement of UCC, for which registration is required under section 6, the parties to the marriage shall prepare and sign a memorandum in the form prescribed by the State Government and deliver it electronically or otherwise within a period of sixty days from the date of marriage.
  • Registration is required, in case of a marriage solemnized/contracted in the State, to the Sub-Registrar within whose jurisdiction the marriage was solemnized/contracted or either of the parties to the marriage resides.
  • Registration is required in case of a marriage solemnized/contracted outside the Statc, to the Sub-Registrar within whose jurisdiction either of the parties resides in the State.

Void Marriages

Any marriage solemnized/contracted after the commencement of this Code shall be null and void:

  • The marriage has not been consummated owing to the impotence or wilful refusal of the respondent; or
  • That the consent of the petitioner was obtained by force, coercion or fraud; or
  • That the wife was at the time of the marriage pregnant by a man other than the husband or that the husband had at the time of the marriage impregnated a woman other than the wife.

Divorce

  • A couple, legally married, may approach the court and file for divorce if: 
  • After the solemnization/contracting of the marriage, had voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than the petitioner; or
  • Treated the petitioner with cruelty
  • Deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition (In this clause, the expression "desertion" means the desertion of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage, without reasonable cause).

Grounds for divorce

  • Men, women in any marriage solemnized/contracted can approach the court to file for divorce on grounds: 
  • Adultery, Mental or physical creuelty by spouse
  • Desertion without any reasonable cause
  • Religious conversion by the Spouse
  • Unsoundness of mind, venereal diseases, etc
  • A woman can file for divorce if the husband has been found guilty of rape 
  • If a husband has been found guilty of unnatural sex or has more than two wife
  • One cannot file for divorce in less than one year of their marriage, but exceptional cases wil be entertained. 

Registration of decree of divorce or nullity passed after the commencement of UCC

  • Any decree of divorce or nullity of marriage passed after the commencement of this Code by any Court in the State shall be registered.
  • Any decree of divorce or nullity of marriage passed after the commencement of this Code by any court outside the State, where at least one party to the decree is a resident of the State, shall be registered.

Registration of decree of divorce or nullity passed before the commencement of UCC

  • Any decree of divorce or nuility of marriage passed by any court in the State, before the commencement of this Code, may be registered. 
  • Any decree of divorce or nullity of marriage passed by any court outside the State, before the commencement of this Code, where at least one party to the decree is a resident of the State, may be registered.

Live-in relationships

  • Live-in partners will have to register themselves with district officials or face imprisonment under the state's Uniform Civil Code, once it becomes a law.
  • Live-in relationships in which at least one partner is a minor will not be registered.
  • If any of the partners is under the age of 21, the registrar will inform their parents or guardians, according to the bill.
  • Live-in relationships, where the consent of one of the partners was obtained by force, coercion, undue influence, misrepresentation or fraud concerning the identity of the other partner, will also not be registered.
  • Anyone staying in a live-in relationship for more than a month without getting it registered will be punishable with an imprisonment up to three months or a fine of up to Rs 10,000 or both, the bill says.
  • A higher fine apart from an imprisonment of up to three months can be imposed on any person who provides false information in his or her statement on a live-in relationship to the Registrar.
  • If a woman in a live-in relationship gets deserted by her partner, she will be entitled to claim maintenance from him for which she may approach a competent court having jurisdiction over the place where they last cohabited, the bill states.
  • The bill proposes a common law on marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for all citizens irrespective of their religion in Uttarakhand, excluding the Scheduled Tribes.

The Uniform Civil Code bill, which when passed will be the first such legislation to be implemented in any state after Independence.

ALSO READ | Declare live-in relationships or face jail up to 6 months, states Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code

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