Live-in relationship to be out of central UCC draft

Law Commission official says it doesn’t fall within code’s purview
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

NEW DELHI : In a significant departure from the Uttarakhand model, the proposed central law on the Uniform Civil Code is unlikely to go into the question of live-in relationships as it doesn’t fall within the UCC’s purview, highly placed sources in the law ministry said.

The Uttarakhand code proposed mandatory registration of live-in relationships and stringent punishment for violators, spurring public debate on privacy and personal liberty.

Sources said that senior members of the Law Commission are not in favour of bringing in live-in relationships under the ambit of the UCC bill. The 22nd Law Commission of India is tasked with drafting a nationwide UCC, a long-time poll promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Members of the commission believe that the Uttarakhand code legalised live-in relations through compulsory registration, which is counter-productive, said sources. “The institution of marriage is sacrosanct and live-in relationships cannot replace it. The UCC is about common family law for all religious communities on matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession. Co-habitation doesn’t come under the purview of the UCC. But the Uttarakhand UCC has given it a status of marriage now,” said the top official.

The official pointed out that live-in relationships are currently referenced under the 2005 Domestic Violence Act, as domestic relationships. The law also has provisions for maintenance now. “In the Uttarakhand UCC, a child born from such a registered live-in relationship will be treated as legitimate,” the official said.

While some of the BJP-ruled states like Assam and Gujarat are already mulling their own UCC bills by using the Uttarakhand model, the official said it will give rise to constitutional complexities. “Though states can enact some of the personal laws, the central law prevails in some cases,” he said.

The Uttarakhand code mandates that persons in live-ins inform the concerned registrar within a month of the relationship, else they could face a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to Rs 10,000, or both.

National narrative

The BJP plans to push a national UCC narrative in the general elections. Recently, Union minister Amit Shah said that a secular country cannot have religion-based civil codes. “The enforcement of the UCC in Uttarakhand is for social change,” he said

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