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UCC high on BJP's agenda ahead of Lok Sabha polls

New Delhi: After the passage of the three criminal justice bills, the focus is likely to shift to Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which the Modi government is likely to take up ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, highly placed sources in the BJP say. Ahead of the general elections, the BJP is likely to bring in the legislation, which is high on the party’s political agenda, along with another set of contentious rules – the guidelines of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Party sources said that Uttarakhand is set to become the first state to implement the UCC, and a committee formed under the chairmanship of retired Justice Ranjana Desai is set to submit its report to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami soon.

“Once Uttarakhand implements the UCC, there is no reason for BJP-ruled states to not implement it,” the senior party leader said.

If the implementation of the UCC is taken to court, then the party will wait for the judicial review to take place. The senior party leader said that the apex court cannot “stay” an assembly’s decision, but can strike down the implementation if it is found legally void.

“Our party, in the 1950s, filed a case against Article 370 but the matter was taken up only in 1968. Implementation will continue, and we will navigate the judicial review process,” the leader said.

On Wednesday, the three criminal law bills which replace the Colonial-era codes were passed in the Lok Sabha without much Opposition, with 97 members being suspended from the House. The bills are likely to see passage on Thursday. While speaking on the Bills, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the BJP has delivered on all its promises in the party’s 2014 Lok Sabha manifesto.

Party leaders also did not rule out bringing in population control measures in the Centre, as it has been done so in BJP-ruled states like Assam and Gujarat. In Assam, benefits and government schemes are not available to those with more than two children, while in Gujarat, a person with more than two children cannot contest panchayat elections.

Government sources said an administrative order can bring in population control measures, but there cannot be a restriction on having children under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Another important party agenda which the government could bring in are the CAA Rules. The Citizenship Amendment Act, which offers citizenship to non-Muslim individuals who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015, was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2020 and became a huge flashpoint between the government and the Opposition. Protests spilled out across the country, and so, the government is yet to bring in the Rules till now.

However, last month, Minister of State (home affairs) Ajay Kumar Mishra speaking at a function at West Bengal’s Thakurnagar said that the Rules will be brought in before 2024.

(Published 20 December 2023, 19:52 IST)

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