A four-day-long session of the Uttarakhand Assembly will likely see the passage of the State’s Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill.
Speaking with The Hindu, State Finance Minister Prem Chand Aggarwal said that an Assembly session has been called in starting February 5 till February 8. Mr. Aggarwal added that this is not a special Assembly session but rather a continuation of an earlier session which was adjourned sine die on September 8, 2023.
Mr. Aggarwal stressed that the government is not planning to table the State budget in this session and will call a fresh session for the same in days to come.
“The session starting on February 5 is primarily to table a couple of important Bills. One is the 10% horizontal reservation for Statehood agitators and their dependents. The government might also table the UCC Bill if the committee will submit it final report before or during the session,” he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Uttarakhand government in June 2022 formed a committee to examine ways and means for the implementation of a UCC. The committee, which in June 2023 had claimed that a draft UCC was ready, is headed by Justice Desai, who is also the current head of the delimitation commission. Justice Pramod Kohli (retd.), social worker Manu Gaur who heads the Taxpayers Association of Bharat, IAS officer Shatrughan Singh (retd.) and Vice Chancellor of Doon University Surekha Dangwal are other members of the committee.
UCC was one of the electoral promises of the BJP in the 2022 Assembly election.
The committee, which started its work in May 2022, stated that it received around 2.15 lakh written submissions, which includes submissions with multiple signatories. The committee has also met over 20,000 people in person via public outreach programs.
The final UCC draft has focused on a array of issues, be it gender equality to elimination of arbitrariness and discrimination, from uniform laws on property rights to adoption rules, said a member of the committee.
The State has given four extensions to the committee since May 2022 to finalise the draft which is presently in the printing stage.
The Statehood Bill
Various organisations in the State, including the Uttarakhand Sanyukt Sangharsh Smiti and Uttarakhand Rajya Andolankari Manch, which had fought for the Statehood of Uttarakhand have been persistently raising the demand for reservations in jobs.
Several past administrations in the State, including the N.D. Tiwari and Harish Rawat-led Congress governments, as also the Trivendra Singh Rawat-led BJP dispensation, had promised to procure reservations for denizens of the State. Incumbent Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had, earlier this year, established a cabinet sub-committee, headed by Minister Subodh Uniyal, to adjudicate and resolve the matter.