Uniform Civil Code: Pushkar Singh Dhami tables UCC Bill in Uttarakhand Assembly
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday tabled the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill in the state assembly. Earlier, Dhami left his residence in Dehradun with a copy of the Indian Constitution.
Opposition stages protest
The controversial bill was presented in the house amid protests by the opposition MLAs in the house. The Opposition MLAs staged a protest against the government alleging that it overlooked rule books in the assembly.
“We are not against it (Uniform Civil Code). The House is governed by the rules of conduct of business but BJP is continuously ignoring it and wants to suppress the voice of the MLAs based on the strength of numbers. It is the right of the MLAs to express their views in the House, during Question Hour, whether they have a proposal under Rule 58 or under other rules, they have the right to raise their voices on various issues of the state in the Assembly,” LoP Yashpal Arya said.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Uttarakhand Cabinet approved the final draft of the Uniform Civil Code, paving the way for its tabling in the assembly during a special four-day session that begins on Monday.
Before the start of the special session on UCC on Monday, Dhami said the UCC will be “for the good of all sections” and there is no need to worry as he urged members of other parties to debate the bill in the House in a positive manner.
The CM said after chairing the meeting at his official residence “Today in the Cabinet meeting, we passed the proposal to bring the legislation on the Uniform Civil Code in the upcoming Assembly session.”
The session of the Assembly has been convened especially to pass the legislation on the UCC and make it an Act. The cabinet approval of the draft was needed for its introduction in the Assembly.
The final draft of the UCC, running into 740 pages in four volumes, was submitted to Chief Minister Dhami here recently by a five-member panel headed by retired judge of the Supreme Court Ranjana Prakash Desai.
Security has been stepped up around the Assembly premises for the special session which will go on till February 8.
Security beefed up around assembly
“Uttarakhand Assembly’s special session has been called. As in the past, we have placed barricades at entry points around the Assembly to stop any protests. More than 200 constables and 100 inspectors have been placed in the periphery of the Assembly. We have also deployed mobile patrol parties at sensitive locations in the city,’ Senior Superintendent of Police, Dehradun, Ajai Singh said.
The BJP’s landslide victory for a second consecutive term in power in Uttarakhand in 2022 has been attributed on many occasions by the chief minister to the pre-poll promise of a UCC.
After becoming chief minister for a second consecutive term, Dhami accorded top priority to fulfilling his pre-poll commitment, announcing the constitution of a committee to prepare the draft of the UCC at the first meeting of the state cabinet after assuming office.
The Committee formed in May 2022 took nearly two years and four extensions to prepare the draft and submit it to the chief minister here on Friday.
What will be changed after UCC implementation?
The implementation of the UCC will provide a legal framework for uniform marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance laws for all citizens across all faiths in the state.
The panel received 2.33 lakh written suggestions online and held more than 70 meetings in which the members interacted with around 60,000 people in the course of preparing the draft.
On the day the final draft was submitted to the chief minister, he expressed hope that many states would follow the example of Uttarakhand and use the template provided by the state to implement the UCC.
There has been much debate on the issue of UCC, with political parties and religious organisations divided on the issue.
Congress MLAs walkout
Opposition Congress MLAs on Monday walked out of a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of Uttarakhand Assembly in protest against its decision to waive the Question Hour in the special assembly session to table a bill on the UCC.
Asked about the protest by the opposition members, Speaker Ritu Khanduri said, “UCC is a going to be a very important law, not just for Uttarakhand but for the whole country. The Question Hour is important too but sometimes things are so significant that take precedence over routine procedures of the House,” Khanduri said.
Later in the day, a delegation led by Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly Yashpal Arya met the Governor and handed over a memorandum letter signed by all 19 Congress MLAs, including him, to register their protest and sought his intervention in the matter.
Waiving the Question Hour and not taking up matters of urgent public interest is a violation of the rules of conducting House business and shows the government’s total disregard for constitutional and parliamentary norms, the letter said and urged the Governor to issue necessary instructions to the government and “protect the constitution”.
The Congress MLAs also challenged the constitutionality of the decision of waiving the Question Hour on technical grounds.
The ongoing session of the state assembly is not a special session as the previous session of the House had not been prorogued, they argued.
Apart from Arya, the letter was signed by MLAs Pritam Singh, Bhuvan Kapri, Rajendra Singh Bhandari, Harish Singh, Mamata Rakesh, Furkan Ahmad, and Tilak Raj Behar, among 11 others.
Asked whether the Congress members had resigned from the business advisory committee of the House, Speaker Khanduri said she had not received any such communication from them so far.
(With PTI inputs)