Rajasthan passes bill to register child marriages, oppn calls it a black day
Rajasthan has passed a bill to amend an act on mandatory registration of marriages, including child marriages, with the opposition staging a walkout from the assembly. The assembly passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which amends the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, on Friday and under which information on child marriage must be furnished by their parents or guardians within 30 days of the wedding.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators walked out of the House and questioned the need for the registration of child marriages and demanded the withdrawal of the bill. The Congress government in the state, however, said that the bill has been brought on the basis of a Supreme Court order.
“It will be a black day for the assembly if this bill is passed. Does the assembly permit us to unanimously allow child marriages? By a show of hands, we will be permitting child marriages. The bill will write a black chapter in the history of the assembly,” BJP MLA Ashok Lahoti said, according to news agency ANI.
Rajasthan parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal, however, said that the amendment does not say that child marriages will be valid. “You say that child marriages will be validated. Nowhere does this amendment say that such marriages will be valid. A marriage certificate is a legal document, in the absence of which a widow won't receive the benefit of any govt scheme,” Dhariwal was quoted as saying by ANI.
The bill passed in the Rajasthan assembly will now allow the government to appoint an additional district marriage registration officer (DMRO) and block marriage registration officer to register marriages. Before this, only the DMRO was authorised to register the marriages in the state. Under Section 8 of the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, If the girl's age at the time of marriage is less than 18 years and the boy's age is less than 21, then her parents will have to inform the registration officer within 30 days.
The opposition objected to the amendment of Section 8 of the 2009 act, saying that it should be done away with. The bill was passed by voice vote.