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Uttarakhand panel on Uniform Civil Code: From former SC judge to ex-chief secretary, Doon V-C to activist

The state government’s move is in keeping with Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s pledge on the UCC issue made before the recent Assembly polls.

Written by Avaneesh Mishra | Dehradun |
Updated: May 29, 2022 8:01:53 am
From top left: Shatrughan Singh, Ranjana Desai, Permod Kohli, Manu Gaur, Surekha Dangwal.

The BJP-led Uttarakhand government has formed a five-member expert committee, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and to check all the relevant laws that control personal matters for those living in the state.

The state government’s move is in keeping with Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s pledge on the UCC issue made before the recent Assembly polls.

According to a government’s order issued Friday, besides its chairperson Justice Desai, the four members of the UCC panel include ex-Sikkim High Court Chief Justice Permod Kohli, social activist Manu Gaur, former Uttarakhand chief secretary Shatrughan Singh, and Doon University vice-chancellor Surekha Dangwal.

Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai

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Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai currently heads the Delimitation Commission of India. In its final order for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir — whose notification was issued on May 5 — the Delimitation panel recommended seven additional constituencies — six for Jammu and one for Kashmir — taking the total number of seats in the UT to 90 from 83 earlier. The panel’s decisions, which cleared the decks for the Assembly polls in the UT, met with criticism amongst mainstream parties in the Valley.

After completing her Bachelor of Arts from the Elphinstone College in Mumbai in 1970 and her law degree from the Government Law College there in 1973, Desai joined the legal profession, starting as a junior in the office of Justice SC Pratap of the Bombay High Court. Later, she got an opportunity to appear in several civil and criminal matters. She also worked with her father SG Samant, an eminent criminal lawyer.

Desai was appointed as a Government Pleader at the Bombay High Court in 1979. Subsequently, she was appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor for preventive detention matters. In 1996, she was elevated to the High Court Bench and to the position of a Supreme Court Judge in 2011.

After her retirement from the apex court, Justice Desai was appointed as the chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity in 2014. In 2018, she was appointed as the chairperson of the Advance Ruling Authority.

Justice Desai is currently also the chairperson of the Search Committee that was constituted to recommend the panel for consideration of the chairperson and members of the Lokpal.

Justice Permod Kohli

A graduate from G.G.M. Science College in Jammu, Permod Kohli pursued a law degree from University of Jammu in 1972. He was later appointed as the Additional Advocate General of Jammu & Kashmir during the Governor’s rule in 1990. Subsequently, he became the Advocate General of J&K.

He conducted cases on constitutional, civil, taxation and various legal branches of law and became the legal advisor to Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and Sri Mata Vaishno Devi University.

Afterwards, Justice Kohli was appointed as an Additional Judge of the J&K High Court. In 2006, he was transferred to the Jharkhand High Court. He was also transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was later elevated to the position of the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court in 2011, and he retired from the post in 2013.

Manu Gaur

A social activist, Manu Gaur is an agriculturist by profession, who hails from Uttarakhand. He is also the president of TAXAB, an organisation working

for the welfare of taxpayers, population control, safety and revival of natural resources and development.

Gaur is considered instrumental in drafting a population control policy, which was also said to have got the support of a number of MPs. As a social worker involved in various causes, he has featured on various television shows and debates.

Shatrughan Singh

A 1983-batch IAS officer, Shatrughan Singh became the 13th chief secretary of Uttarakhand in November 2015. He served as the chief secretary for a year before S Ramaswamy took over. After his retirement, Singh was appointed as the chief information commissioner (CIC) of Uttarakhand.

During the previous tenure of the BJP government in the state, soon after resigning as the CIC, Singh was appointed as the chief advisor to the then CM Tirath Singh Rawat.

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Surekha Dangwal

Surekha Dangwal is currently the vice-chancellor of Doon University in Dehradun. She has earlier served as the head of the department of English, Modern European & Other Foreign Languages in Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand.

She has 34 years of teaching and research experience so far and has been a recipient of the prestigious DAAD fellowship in Germany. She completed a three-month programme on women studies at the International Women University in Kassal and Hannover, Germany, and has also been a visiting faculty at Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, USA under a faculty exchange programme.

Her research interests focus on South Asian women studies, diaspora literature and literary theory. She has published research papers and articles. She has also translated the works of several regional poets and writers into English.

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