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The persistent risks of love across social norms in India

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AN ENGINEER IN her mid-twenties, living in Delhi, was contemplating the future of her relationship. They and their partner wanted to settle in their hometown – Dehradun, in Uttarakhand – without getting married. But since Uttarakhand recently passed the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), they worried that this would not be possible. Though their economic and social position allows them to cohabit without much trouble, they worried about registering their relationship with a registrar. “It is, in some strange way, akin to a marriage, where we bring the state in, and not to mention that we need to await the approval of the registrar who may even ‘decline’ us the chance to live together, without any solid reason,” the engineer explained. 

On 7 February 2024, Uttarakhand became the first state in India to pass the Uniform Civil Code – a common legislation for all religions on divorce, marriage, inheritance and live-in relationships. Under the UCC, couples wishing to cohabit are expected to submit statements confirming their relationship to a local registrar, who decides whether to “register” the relationship after conducting a summary inquiry. This has caused consternation in many circles. According to Areeba Rahman, a 20-year-old aspiring psychologist, the UCC will be used to “be nosy and interfere in our personal matters.” 

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