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Rajasthan govt’s new law sparks concerns over child marriage, NGOs write to CM Ashok Gehlot

marriageThe NCPCR asked the government to reconsider the provisions of the Bill, saying that it gives legitimacy to child marriages and is in contravention of several child protection laws.

Several NGO working for the welfare of women and against child marriage have written to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, objecting to the state government’s Marriages Amendment Bill 2021, which says that marriages including those of minors should be registered.

The Bill, when passed in the state assembly last month, led to a furore with those fighting against child marriage calling it a retrogade bill. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights asked the government to reconsider the provisions of the Bill, saying that it gives legitimacy to child marriages and is in contravention of several child protection laws.

Last Saturday, NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo wrote to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, pointing out that the provisions of the Bill may have a serious impact on the “physical, psychological, social and education of minors in the state”.

The commission feared the enactment of the bill may have a serious impact on the physical, psychological, and social state of the minors, and their education. It asked the government to reconsider the bill and review it in accordance with the law and welfare of the children in the state.

“The bill … 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,” the NCPCR said in the letter.

The bill has fomented a considerable controversy eliciting even a Public Interest Litigation over the legitimacy of the said section.

The BJP, principal Opposition party in Rajasthan, maintains that the bill which was passed by the state Assembly, will legalise child marriage in the state.

However, the ruling Congress maintains that the Bill is not meant for the validation of child marriages but is to ensure that all marriages in the state, including child marriages, are registered as required by the Supreme Court.

The government claims that the Bill will ensure that child marriages are brought to light and, in such cases, the district administration will still be able to take action against the family members.

“We have not legalised child marriage. It is the requirement of the Court that marriages have to be registered,” cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said.

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