GUWAHATI, Aug 6 (PTI): Hours after an expert committee submitted its report on the state’s competence to frame laws to end polygamy, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said a legislation on the subject will be introduced within this financial year.
Addressing a press conference here, he said the expert committee, which submitted its report earlier during the day, has unanimously agreed that the state can frame its own laws to end polygamy.
“The report unanimously said the state government can frame laws on polygamy. The only point they said is that the final assent on the Bill has to be done by the President instead of the Governor, who does the final signature on other state laws,” he added.
Asked if Assam will bring in a law to end polygamy, the chief minister replied in the affirmative.
“The law will definitely come within this financial year,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the expert committee formed by the Assam government to examine legislative competence of the state legislature to enact a law to end polygamy submitted its report to the chief minister.
Sarma shared pictures of the committee handing over the report to him and the cover of the document on Twitter.
“Today, the expert committee submitted its report. Assam is now closer to creating a positive ecosystem for women’s empowerment irrespective of caste, creed or religion,” the chief minister said.
On May 12, Sarma had announced the formation of the four-member expert committee headed by Justice (Retd) Rumi Kumari Phukan.
Besides Phukan, the other members of the committee are the state’s Advocate General Devajit Saikia, Senior Additional Advocate General Nalin Kohli and senior Advocate Nekibur Zaman.
On July 18, the Assam government had extended the term of the committee by a month with effect from July 13 to August 12.
The committee was initially given a deadline of 60 days to submit its report. It was tasked to scrutinise the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act, 1937 along with Article 25 of the Constitution in relation to the Directive Principles of State Policy for a Uniform Civil Code.
On July 13, Sarma had said the Assam government conveyed to the authorities concerned that it was in support of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and wanted to ban polygamy immediately in the state.
The UCC is a matter which would be decided by Parliament, but the state can also take a call with the assent of the President, he had added.
“We want to take one of its segments, polygamy, and ban it immediately. We are planning to introduce the Bill to ban it in the next Assembly session in September and if we are unable to do so for some reason, we will do it in the January session,” Sarma had said.
The opposition parties have slammed the decision of the government as diversionary and communal, especially at a time when suggestions on the UCC are being received by the Law Commission.