New Delhi: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said Sunday that his government would implement the Uniform Civil Code “very soon” and urged other states in the country to follow his example — a development that comes a month after he announced his government was setting up a panel to draft the law.
Dhami was speaking at a media enclave organised at Ashok Hotel on the occasion of the competition of 75 years of Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh’s magazines Organiser and Panchjanya.
“This has been a priority for our government. We’ve taken steps in this direction and it will soon be implemented,” he said.
The Uniform Civil Code, or the UCC, envisions a common set of civil laws for marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession for all citizens of the country, regardless of their religion. Currently, personal laws — a law that applies to a class of people based on their faith and religion — government these aspects in India.
Critics of the law say it threatens the fundamental right to religion.
Dhami’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and its “ideological mentor” the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been among the strongest advocates for a uniform civil code in India. One of the key items on the Sangh’s agenda, it became part of the BJP’s poll plank in the 1998 general elections.
Dhami announced a panel for drafting the law in March — days after his party won the Uttarakhand assembly elections and he was sworn in for a second term. It was Dhami’s biggest poll promise for the elections.
The UCC is defined under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. The Article says: “the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. However, it comes under Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV — usually seen as guidelines to the state while formulating its policies for governance.
‘Char Dham mishap — not administrative disorder’
Dhami said Sunday that the death of 48 devotees on their way to the Char Dham Yatra was not because of “administrative disorder”.
The Char Dham Yatra is an annual pilgrimage to Uttarakhand’s four holy shrines — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. It’s usually open to devotees throughout the summer months.
Dhami was referring to the state government’s data that showed that several devotees had died on the way since the Char Dham Yatra began on May 3. The data shows that 46 of the 48 died of heart attacks at high altitudes.
He told the gathering that 22,000 people had arrived for the yatra on the first day against a capacity of 15,000.
“We asked people to not come for the yatra without registration,” he said. “The people who died passed away due to natural causes or previous ailments.”
Saturday, Times of India quoted his health minister, Dhan Singh Rawat, as saying that many of the devotees who died were suffering from “post-Covid health issues”.
Dhami was also asked about the allegations of illegal encroachments of supposed Islamic tombs or shrines in “Hindu-dominated area”.
He said his government won’t tolerate encroachments.
‘Meetha bolta hoon, par kaam sakhti se karta hoon (I speak sweetly, but act tough,” Dhami said at the event, when he was asked about supposed “mushrooming” of mazars — an Islamic shrine or a tomb — in “Hindu-dominated areas of Uttarakhand”. This has been one of the concerns of the Hindu right- wing press, especially Organiser and Panchjanya — the organisers of the event.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)