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The Peeping Tom

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By Wg Cdr Satish Aparajit (Retd)

Uttarakhand (UK) led on the UCC, an initiative dear to the BJP. There was much adulation of the CM of UK on arrival at the party HQs in Dehradun, flower petals were strewn on a man larger than life for successfully getting the UCC bill passed in the Assembly. Much chest-thumping took place as it was the first state to initiate it. Brownie points were won by the CM.

What’s the impact of the UCC on the common person I wondered. So, I carried out a random survey to understand their perception. Everyone without exception said it was to fix the minority community. Many people were not even aware of the full form of UCC, responses ranged from Universal Civil Code, Uttam Civil Code and many others. Of course, they also agreed that this would also help the present dispensation win hands down in the ‘24 elections, though the Ayodhya Temple Pran Prathistha had already achieved that, and this would further strengthen their prospects. In any case, there is no opposition left in the country to tackle the BJP tsunami that is expected wipe out all and sundry in 2024. “Is bar chaar sau par” might become a reality. I dwelt on the recommendations to see whether it would promote gender equality and secularism.

The Constitution of India that is Bharat offers the fundamental right to freedom and liberty. What’s the intention of the Government in bringing out UCC? Is it to protect women being sexually exploited under the garb of the promise to marry? It doesn’t appear so. There are a few good points, removal of Halala, and gender equality as regards the transfer of property to children on the demise of the property holder. However, consider this, live-in partners will have to register their relationship. What I wonder is the rationale, is it to discourage and curb the western trend of staying together, or protecting those in a relationship that does not enjoy the legal status of marriage, or finding out Love Jehadi couples? Mind you, on attaining the age of 18, a girl is of marriageable age, and a boy at 21, as stipulated by law. They are mature enough to know what they are doing. They do not need parental approval. According to the press reports, this was the demand of parents. Wonder who the parents are who formed a part of the survey. It’s like the statistics that government produces on various issues from time to time. UCC should not have the right to regulate live-in relationships. Yes, what they have effectively done is open another path to earn extra revenue for the implementing authorities and cause harassment. The Government probably feels that the live-in partners would get fed up and perhaps decide to get married instead of facing harassment by the implementing authorities. Imagine a criminal case filed or FIR lodged against the live-in partners. This could lead to loss of jobs and various other issues that would make it difficult for the partners to even survive.

There are double standards in this law as the tribes are exempt from registration. What it will give rise to is vigilantism,and moral policing. Such couples will be typecast that will make living in the area difficult. Obtaining housing on rent will also become an issue as the owners will demand a registration certificate. How will registration prevent crime? If one looks at the data on dowry deaths (the ones that are reported), domestic violence and sexual violence continue to happen all over the country within the protection of matrimony.

Or, is it the return of the licence raj? Licence to live together, to have sex with the partner. Wonder if there will be a fee attached to it.

An interesting question: what happens to a couple living together as partners while both of them though married are separated and going through divorce proceedings? Will registration be allowed in such a case and licence issued to legalise their cohabitation, unless it’s declared as adultery.

The Governor of the state of UK cleared it hot off the press. The President of India has given her approval. Good luck to all. Peeping Tom or Peeping Bhau is here to stay.

(Satish Aparajit is a retired wing Commander)