Amid uproar, the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021 by voice vote to amend a 2009 Act on compulsory registration of marriages within 30 days of the marriage. The new legislation, opposition BJP has claimed will legitimise child marriages.
According to the new bill, the bride and groom can apply for registration of marriage to the marriage registration officer of the place where they have been residing for more than 30 days.
The bill that has brought child marriage under its ambit states that the marriage between the bridegroom who has not completed 21 years and the bride who has not completed 18 years of age could be registered by the parents or guardians within the 30 days of the marriage, said the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Shanti Kumar Dhariwal in the assembly.
After Bharatiya Janata Party leaders at the Assembly vigorously opposed the bill and questioned the provision of registration of child marriages under the bill, Dhariwal said, "The bill does not say that child marriage is valid. The bill says that after marriage, only registration is necessary. It does not imply that child marriage is valid. If the District Collector wants, he or she can still take action against the child marriages".
"This amendment is not in contradiction to the central law. The Supreme Court has also ruled that there should be compulsory registration of marriages, Hence the bill includes child marriages".
During the debate, BJP leader and Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said, "I think this law is completely wrong. The legislators who have passed it has not seen it. Section 8 of the bill violates the present law in force against the child marriages".
"Today, the majority of the people agree with this law and have mentally prepared themselves. They provide education to their students but they dislike the concept of child marriages. But if you justify child marriages like this, then a wrong impression will go to the people. the Rajasthan Vidhan sabha will be defamed," MLA Sanyam Lodha.
"I am surprised that in Rajasthan, where child marriages are considered a regressive custom, and in 1927, Sharda Act came into existence in Rajasthan. It was passed by Harvilas Sharda and it was replaced by the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, today the numbers prove that Rajasthan is still in the hold of this regressive custom," said Rajendra Rathod, Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.
Highlighting the provision of the bill, Dhariwal said that now registration can be done at the level of District Marriage Registration Officer as well as Additional District Marriage Registration Officer and Block Marriage Registration Officer level.
"These officers will be able to monitor and review the work of registration. This will make it easier for the general public to register. This will bring simplicity and transparency to the work," said Dhariwal.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister added that the marriage registration certificate is a legal document. Without this, widows are not able to get the benefits of many schemes.
Now with the compulsory registration, even if one or both of the bride and groom dies, the family members will be able to apply for marriage registration and get the certificate, stated Dhariwal.
Earlier, the House rejected the motion of the members to publicize the bill by voice vote.
The Rajasthan Assembly also witnessed a walkout by the opposition in protest against the bill.