Rajasthan Assembly passes bill allowing registration of child marriage
The Rajasthan Assembly Friday passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to amend a 2009 Act, making the registration of marriages, including child marriages, mandatory. The provision related to child marriage is not a new addition. Instead, the bill only reiterates what has already been in force under the 2009 Act. However, the Opposition claimed the bill would legitimize child marriage.
What does the bill say?
The new bill says a bride and a groom can apply for the registration of their marriage to the marriage registration officer of the place where they have been residing for more than 30 days. The marriage between a groom under 21 years and a bride under 18 years could be registered by their parents or guardians, it added.
How does the amendment compare to the 2009 Act?
Both the new amendment and the 2009 Act make the registration of child marriage compulsory. The difference is only in terms of age. Under the 2009 Act, if both the bride and the groom are under 21, their parents/guardians have to register for their marriage. The amendment seeks to differentiate between the age of the bride (18) and the bridegroom (21) for the same.
What else does the new amendment say?
The bill also seeks to enable a widow or a widower, or their children, parents, or kin (in case both have died), to register their marriage within 30 days of their death. The bill also seeks to extend the marriage registration officers to the block level. Notably, the 2009 Act had only provided the scope for district marriage registration officers.
BJP staged walkout; claims bill will legitimize child marriage
Protesting against the bill, the Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly. The Leader of Opposition, BJP's Gulab Chand Kataria, said, "I think this law is completely wrong...Section 8 (related to child marriage) of the bill violates the present law in force against child marriages." Notably, child marriage in India is prohibited under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
'Bill doesn't say child marriage is valid'
Countering the Opposition's claim, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal said, "The bill does not say that child marriage is valid. The bill says that after marriage, only registration is necessary...If the District Collector wants, he/she can still take action against the child marriages."