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Assam awaits decision on UCC, plans Bill to ban polygamy

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday that Assam will move to pass a Bill banning polygamy until a final decision is taken on a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

Sarma, after speaking at an event said the state government is in favor of UCC, even as NDA partners governing other states in the region — such as Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram — have expressed their opposition to the Code.

Assam will continue to independently work towards introducing legislation to ban polygamy, he added.

Sarma’s statement on the decision of polygamy

“The UCC is a matter that will be decided by Parliament and, of course, states can take a call with the President’s assent,” he said. “So UCC involves various issues — the Law Commission is looking into it, the Parliamentary committee is looking at it, and the Assam government has already conveyed that we are in support of UCC.”

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“Pending a decision, we want to take out one segment of the entire UCC, which is polygamy. In Assam, we want to ban polygamy immediately,” he said.

In May, Sarma had first announced that Assam will move to ban the practice of polygamy through “legislative action”. As a first move towards this, the state government constituted a committee headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge, Justice Rumi Phukan, to “examine legislative competence of (the) state legislature to enact a law to end polygamy”.

The committee was directed to submit its report in 60 days. On Thursday, Sarma said, “If the expert committee gives the report before that, we want to introduce [the Bill] in the Assembly session in September. If for some reason we are not able to do it, we will do it in the January session.”

When he had first announced the proposal to ban polygamy, Sarma had said that during the statewide crackdown earlier this year on child marriage, the authorities found that many men “married multiple times”, and often married minor girls. “Therefore, the crackdown against child marriage is not the only solution; banning polygamy is also important,” he had said.

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