Committee Instituted By Gujarat Government To Implement UCC

With Gujarat headed to Assembly elections, the State Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi announced that the cabinet had decided to form a committee for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state. The UCC refers to a common set of laws governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession for all citizens, irrespective of religion.

Gujarat is the second BJP-ruled state after Uttarakhand to constitute a committee of experts on the UCC. The committee will be constituted under the leadership of a retired judge of the High Court. The cabinet has given the Chief Minister the right to constitute the committee and it is expected to comprise three-four members. Its scope of work too will be decided.

Since family and succession laws come under the concurrent jurisdiction of the Centre and states, a state government can bring in a state law. But a uniform law across the country can only be enacted by Parliament. Earlier in October 2022, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the matter will now be placed before the 22nd Law Commission.

Responding to petitions seeking uniformity in laws governing matters of divorce, succession, inheritance, adoption and guardianship, the Centre, in an affidavit, underlined that the Constitution obligates the state to have a Uniform Civil Code for citizens. It said citizens belonging to different religions and denominations following different property and matrimonial laws “is an affront to the nation’s unity”.

Currently, Goa is the only state in India that has a uniform civil code regardless of religion, gender and cast. In other parts of the country, different personal laws are applicable to different religious communities. For instance, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, is applicable to matters related to Parsis, the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 for Christians and the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 is applicable to Muslims in personal matters.

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