Activists, Oppn oppose new Rajasthan Marriage Bill

Activists, NGOs oppose new Rajasthan Bill that 'legitimises child marriage'

The Bill was passed earlier this month and sought to amend the 2009 Act to make registration of all marriages within 30 days mandatory

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

Activists, non-government organisations and Opposition parties are protesting Rajasthan's new Marriages Amendment Bill 2021, questioning if it seeks to allow child marriages in the state, even as the Congress government dismissed the allegations. 

The Bill was passed earlier this month through a voice vote and sought to amend the 2009 Act to make registration of all marriages within 30 days mandatory. 

Also read: About 50% rise in child marriage cases in 2020, experts say more reporting may be a factor

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and members of the BJP opposed the amendment claiming that it will legalise child marriage in the state. 

NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo Saturday wrote to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, pointing out that the provisions of the Bill may have a serious impact on the “physical, psychological, social and education of minors in the state”.

The apex child rights body said the bill provides for registration of child marriages through marriage registration officer of the place where they have been residing for more than 30 days.

The Opposition termed it a "black law" and demanded that the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker should go for division of votes. They trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans but the bill was passed. On Sunday, hundreds of BJP youth wing activists staged protests and submitted a memorandum demanding the repeal of the Bill. 

The ruling Congress maintains that the Bill is not meant for the validation of child marriages but to ensure that all marriages in the state, including child marriages, are registered as required by the Supreme Court.

"We have not legalised child marriage. It is the requirement of the Court that marriages have to be registered," cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas told India Today

The Rajasthan government also claims that the Bill will ensure that child marriages are brought to light and, in such cases, the district administration will still be able to take action against the family members.

Also read: Poverty, school closure push up child marriages in Karnataka

The amendment changes the age limit to 21 for men and 18 for women to submit a memorandum on their marriage to the registrar which was earlier allowed for both men and women above the age of 21. 

Amid the row, victims of child marriage or those who were on the verge of falling prey to it claim that there should be an outright ban on it in the country.  

(With agency inputs)

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