Government may introduce UCC Bill in Monsoon Session of Parliament

New Delhi: The Modi government is considering introducing the contentious Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill during the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament. The government hopes to garner the necessary support in the Rajya Sabha with parties such as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, the Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have openly expressed their support for the UCC. The BJP is also counting on the support of Naveen Patnaik’s BJD and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress, though Reddy’s stand on the matter is not yet clear.

However, a large number of opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Janata Dal United (JDU), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have described it as The UCC is seen as a “diversionary strategy” adopted by the Modi government with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections. They have expressed their opposition to the bill, while other parties such as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav faction) have called for a “wider consultation” on the issue.

Commenting on the matter, BJP general secretary Dushyant Gautam said on Friday, “The Uniform Civil Code has been a part of the BJP’s manifesto since the party’s inception, and hence its implementation is a priority.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent endorsement of the UCC shows that the government intends to expedite the process and introduce the bill during the monsoon session ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.

The real challenge for the BJP lies in the Upper House, where they need the support of 119 members from the current strength of 237 MPs, ie eight vacant seats, to pass the bill. Currently, the BJP has 92 members, and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 109 seats, relying on the support of the nine seats held by both the BJP and the YSR Congress. However, since the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress is yet to clear its stand on the UCC, the BJP could potentially be supported by Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, which has a crucial ten seats in the Upper House.

Elections for ten Rajya Sabha seats are to be held on July 24, where the BJP is expected to gain an additional seat from West Bengal at the expense of the Congress.

Following Modi’s strong support of the UCC, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has called representatives of the Law Commission and the Law Ministry to deliberate on the issue on 3 July. The purpose of the committee is to gather views on the UCC and review individual laws.

As per the schedule of the Standing Committee, the Law Panel, representatives of the Legal Affairs and Legislative Departments of the Ministry of Law will present their views on the public notice issued by the Law Commission of India on June 14, 2023, inviting views from various stakeholders. On Uniform Civil Code, under the topic ‘Review of Personal Law’.