Uttarakhand's Bold Move: Navigating the Uncharted Waters of Live-In Relationships

Mainstream
10-Feb-2024
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In a groundbreaking legislative move, the Uttarakhand Assembly has unveiled the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill, stirring conversations and concerns alike as it delves into uncharted territory, framing stringent terms for consensual relationships among heterosexual couples.

Defining the Norms: Uttarakhand’s Landmark Uniform Civil Code Bill

The UCC Bill, introduced on Tuesday, extends its reach from mandatory registration for heterosexual live-in relationships to maintenance provisions for women deemed deserted, sparking debates around privacy, personal liberty, and the state's role in consensual adult relationships.

The proposed legislation envisions live-in relationships between a man and a woman, equating them to the status of marriage. It mandates notifying the Registrar within a month of initiating or terminating such a relationship, backed by the threat of imprisonment for non-compliance.

Addressing Concerns: A 'Mental Deterrent' for Heinous Crimes

Responding to concerns, a state official cited the imperative to curb heinous crimes among live-in couples as the driving force behind the stringent provisions. The registration, the official argued, serves as a mental deterrent to dissuade partners with bad intentions.

During public consultations led by Justice Ranjana Desai's expert committee, incidents of live-in relationship crimes resonated strongly in the minds of the populace, according to the state official. The balancing act between personal freedom and the interests of the youth was a pivotal aspect discussed during the consultations.

Constitutional Quandaries: Legal Experts Weigh In

However, legal experts voice concerns over the potential privacy infringement, emphasizing the fundamental right recognized in the Puttaswamy ruling. Senior advocate Geeta Luthra pointed out that compulsory registration encroaches on citizens' freedom to choose not to marry, urging caution against state interference in consensual matters.

Maintenance Measures: Akin to Married Women

The UCC Bill doesn't stop at registration; it introduces provisions for maintenance for women deserted by their live-in partners, mirroring the entitlements of married women. This aligns live-in relationships with the Domestic Violence Act, of 2005, recognizing them as domestic relationships.

Charting New Territories: Recognition of Legitimate Children

Explicitly acknowledging the legal position but now codifying it, the UCC Bill recognizes children born in live-in relationships as legitimate. The Registrar, vested with powers akin to anti-conversion legislation, is authorized to conduct a summary inquiry and summon involved parties for verification.

Debates and Dilemmas: Uttarakhand's Legislative Boldness

While the UCC Bill aims to address concerns and regulate live-in relationships, it has ignited debates on state interference, personal freedoms, and constitutional principles. As the legislative journey unfolds, Uttarakhand's bold move serves as a focal point for broader discussions on the intersection of law, relationships, and individual liberties.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University