Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot to withdraw controversial marriage registration bill
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday announced that his government will ask Governor Kalraj Mishra to return the controversial Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill was passed this September by the Rajasthan Assembly amid an uproar by the Opposition. There is a concern in the state that this Bill will legitimize child marriages in Rajasthan.
What does the Bill say?
The Rajasthan marriage registration bill passed by the state Assembly in September amends a 2009 Act. The Bill makes it mandatory to register marriages, including child marriages. The Bill states that a marriage between a groom under 21 years and a bride under 18 years could be registered by their parents or guardians at their local marriage registration office.
Why is the bill controversial?
The Bill is said to legitimize child marriages in Rajasthan. Incidentally, 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. The Bill triggered a controversy and uproar by civil society, women's rights groups, NGOs, and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
Rajasthan government's changed stance on Bill
On Monday, which also coincides with the International Day of the Girl Child, CM Gehlot announced in the state Assembly that it will request the state Governor to return the bill. The CM also tweeted, "We have a strong resolve that child marriage should not take place in the state and the government will not make any compromise in this regard."
You can view Gehlot's tweet here
Issue of child marriages in Rajasthan
Despite a ban, child marriages remain prevalent in large parts of Rajasthan. As per official data from 2015-16, around 35% of marriages in the state are underage marriages. The BJP terms the new bill by the Congress government as "giving a backdoor entry to child marriage" in the state. Meanwhile, CM Gehlot said that his government will take legal opinion on the Bill.