Assam takes bold step towards Uniform Civil Code by repealing Muslim Marriage Act

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In a significant move that propels India closer to the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a legal framework designed to standardize laws across all communities, the state of Assam has announced the repeal of the Muslim Marriage Act. The decision was made public after a cabinet meeting held on February 23, 2024, indicating a major policy shift aimed at harmonizing legal standards across different cultural and religious groups within the state.

Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, shared insights into the cabinet’s decision on X, highlighting the repeal of the Assam Muslim Marriage & Divorce Registration Act of 1935. Sarma pointed out that the now-obsolete act had provisions that contradicted the legal marriage ages of 18 for brides and 21 for grooms, thus facilitating a pathway towards eliminating child marriages in Assam. This development not only underscores Assam’s commitment to upholding legal marriage age standards but also aligns with its broader goals towards implementing the UCC, mirroring actions taken by Uttarakhand, which recently passed the UCC bill of 2024.

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The UCC bill in Uttarakhand, cleared by the state assembly three weeks prior to Assam’s announcement, aims to regulate laws related to marriage and divorce, successions, and live-in relationships among other matters, marking a concerted effort towards legal uniformity in India. Assam’s recent legislative action suggests a move in a similar direction, with implications for the governance of Muslim marriages and divorces in the state.

Uniform Civil Code Moves Closer as Assam Ends Muslim Marriage & Divorce Act

Uniform Civil Code Moves Closer as Assam Ends Muslim Marriage & Divorce Act

Cabinet Minister Jayanta Mallabarua elaborated on the implications of the repeal, indicating that matters pertaining to Muslim marriages and divorces would henceforth be governed under the Special Marriages Act. He referenced statements made by Chief Minister Sarma about Assam’s trajectory towards the UCC, emphasizing the significance of the cabinet’s decision to abolish the 1935 act and its reliance on the Special Marriages Act for the registration of marriages and divorces henceforth.

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This landmark decision by Assam’s cabinet not only highlights the state’s drive towards legal reform and uniformity but also sets a precedent for other Indian states considering the adoption of the UCC. By repealing an act that permitted the registration of marriages below the legal age, Assam reinforces its stance against child marriages, aligning its legal framework with national standards and aspirations for a more unified legal system.

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The repeal of the Muslim Marriage Act by Assam is a bold step towards realizing the vision of a Uniform Civil Code in India. This move is significant not only for its immediate impact on the legal treatment of Muslim marriages and divorces but also as a signal of India’s commitment to legal reform and uniformity across diverse cultural and religious communities. As more states contemplate similar measures, the path towards a truly uniform civil code seems increasingly plausible, reflecting a broader trend towards national legal harmonization and the protection of fundamental rights.

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