This Indian State BANNED Muslim Polygamy and Didn’t Stop There…

Lawmakers in a small Indian state have voted to approve a landmark civil code that will unify personal laws for marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption for Hindus, Muslims, and other religious communities, including legislation that will require couples living together to register with the government or face punishment.

The northern Indian state of Uttarakhand passed a uniform civil code (UCC) on February 9th, aiming to set a more unified set of rules for civil relationships for all of its citizens regardless of their religion, making it the first state in India to implement a uniform civil code, a controversial promise made by the ruling BJP for decades, since the country declared independence from Britain in 1947.

Currently, India’s Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and other religious communities either adhere to their personal laws and customs per their faiths or optionally follow a secular code for marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance. Rooted in the framework of the 1950 Indian Constitution, the UCC seeks to end religious interpretation of laws on civil relationships, such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, and succession.

The new legislation seeks to ban certain practices, such as polygamy and a custom called triple talaq, a form of instant divorce among India’s Muslim community where a man can divorce his wife by saying the word “talaq” three times. The code also sets a minimum age for marriage for all citizens, with 21 being the minimum marriageable age for men and 18 for women.

The law also establishes a uniform process for divorce and guarantees equal rights to men and women on issues pertaining to divorce, share in ancestral property, and provides rights to adopted children, those born out of wedlock, and those conceived through surrogate births.

Aside from polygamy and triple talaq, the UCC seeks to ban other practices commonly associated with the Muslim community. These customs include nikah halala, which stipulates that a husband cannot remarry his former wife he divorced through triple talaq, unless she marries another man, consummates that marriage, and gets divorced, and iddat, which refers to the period a Muslim woman must observe after the death of her husband or their divorce before she marries another man.

Even though the legislation was widely criticized and seen as unfairly targeting Uttarakhand’s Muslim community, perhaps the most controversial feature of the law is the introduction of stringent measures aimed at live-in relationships. The code requires live-in couples to register with the government.

This regulation will apply to those living in Uttarakhand and registered state residents if they live elsewhere in India. If either of the couple is under 21, the state government will inform their parents, as per the law. The couple would also have to notify the government once their relationship ends. The code also allows a third party to file a complaint against couples who failed to register their relationship.

Failing to register live-in relationships comes at a huge cost, with the punishment of either three months imprisonment, a hefty fine worth 10,000 rupees ($120), or both. Any false statements made during the registration will attract the same jail term, a fine worth 25,000 rupees, or both.

The bill was criticized for being intrusive, especially on the aspect of registering live-in relationships, and Muslim leaders and other religious communities slammed the legislation for interfering with their religious laws and customs on civil relationships. However, BJP leaders and some women’s rights activists defended the code, saying it aims to end regressive practices on relationships.

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.