Assam Govt Takes First Step Towards UCC; Muslim Marriage Act Repealed Via Ordinance

(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) In a significant move, the Assam state government has repealed the long-standing Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act of 1935. The decision was made during a crucial state cabinet meeting held on Friday, February 23, chaired by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

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Chief Minister Sarma announced the decision via social media, stating, "On 23.02.2024, the Assam cabinet made a significant decision to repeal the age-old Assam Muslim Marriages & Divorces Registration Act." This act allowed marriage registration without adhering to the legal ages of 18 and 21 for brides and grooms respectively, thereby facilitating child marriages. Sarma emphasized that this step marks a pivotal move towards eradicating such practices in Assam.

Earlier, during a media briefing, Assam Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah underscored the importance of this step in the state's journey towards implementing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Baruah disclosed that 94 Muslim registrars were still operating under the obsolete act, conducting registrations and divorces for Muslim marriages.

"Towards a journey to the UCC, the Assam cabinet has decided to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935 with immediate effect," Baruah stated. He further announced that all marriages in Assam would now be governed by the Special Marriage Act of 1954.

In light of the repeal, the Assam government outlined plans for the transition. District commissioners and registrars will assume custody of registration records held by the 94 Muslim Marriage Registrars. Additionally, the government has pledged a one-time compensation of ₹2 lakh each to facilitate the rehabilitation of these registrars.

This development aligns with Chief Minister Sarma's commitment to introducing the Uniform Civil Code in Assam. Earlier this month, he announced plans to ban polygamy in the state, emphasizing Assam's forthcoming status as the third state to implement the UCC, following Uttarakhand and Gujarat.

The Uttarakhand government recently passed a bill establishing the Uniform Civil Code in its assembly, replacing various religious personal laws with common regulations applicable to all citizens. Sarma has assured that the Assam UCC bill, which exempts tribal communities, will be introduced within the next few months, mirroring the legislation brought forth by Uttarakhand and Gujarat.

However, this move has sparked debates, with Muslim bodies questioning the exemption of tribals and asserting that the UCC violates the fundamental rights of the Muslim community. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has been vocal in expressing concerns over the implications of the Uniform Civil Code on minority rights.

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