Rajasthan govt’s U-turn on child marriage registration bill after uproar over controversial clause

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Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot 

The Congress government in Rajasthan is facing criticism over a controversial bill on child marriage that was passed last month by the Legislative Assembly. The Rajasthan Compulsory Registrations of Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, amended a 2009 law on mandatory registration of marriages. In the case of minors, their parents or guardians must register the marriages, it said.

The law triggered outrage in the state, with many saying it will encourage child marriages. Also, an NGO has challenged the amendment in the High Court.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said that the government would request the Governor to return the Bill. 

“A controversy going on in Rajasthan. A Bill, over the registration of marriages, was passed by the Assembly. The Supreme Court had ordered that all marriages should be registered so that there doesn’t occur any issue later. The Bill was passed in accordance. It caused controversy that it’ll promote child marriages. We request the Governor to send us back the law,” Gehlot said.

“We will get it examined and go ahead only if deemed necessary. We are determined to see that no child marriage takes place in Rajasthan. Won’t compromise with it,” he added.

The bill amends Section 8 of the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, which deals with “Duty to submit Memorandum”. The Act itself defines Memorandum as the “Memorandum for registration of marriage.”

According to the government’s argument, the amendment will bring the age in line with central law that allows girls to marry at 18 years of age and boys at 21 years of age. Besides, the registration of child marriages will help the government to reach out to more victims.

However, there is another argument that compulsory registration of child marriage will legitimise it and it will become a hurdle in getting an annulment. 

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