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A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Supreme Court after the controversial move by the Rajasthan government on September 17, wherein registration of child marriages have been legalised. According to the Bill passed in the State Legislative Assembly, information on child marriage should be furnished within 30 days of the wedding ceremony. The Opposition and critics have argued that registration of child marriages should not come to effect as such marriages will then be considered valid.
In light of the aforementioned development in Rajasthan, a PIL has been filed before the top court to issue directions under the Mandamus writ. Advocates Shashank Shekhar Jha and Manju Jetley Sharma, on behalf of the petitioners, filed the PIL seeking the quashing of the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration Of Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
"The ridiculous move will provide legal sanctity to the social practice abolished by secular law and promote child marriages," reads petition before the Apex Court.
Notably, during the debate in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal had argued that the registration of child marriages does not qualify for its validity. It is pertinent to note that the latest amendments direct marriage officers to carry out registrations up to a block level. The proposed Bill provides that if the girl's age at the time of marriage is less than 18 years and the boy's age is less than 21, her parents are duty-bound to inform the registration officer within 30 days.
The Bill passed in the Rajasthan assembly allows the authorities to appoint an additional district marriage registration officer (DMRO) and block the marriage registration officer to register marriages. Previously, only DMRO was authorised to register marriages in the state. Under Section 8 of the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act. If the girl's age at the time of marriage is less than 18 years and the boy's age is less than 21, then her parents will have to inform the registration officer within a duration of 30 days.
Protesting the passage of 'The Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021' via voice vote, BJP MLAs on Saturday termed accused the Gehlot govt of 'legalising child marriage'. The Bill which replaces the 2009 Act on mandatory registration of marriages, will include registration of child marriages. The opposition has argued that the clause which empowers parents or guardians of underage boys and girls to register the marriage will, for all purposes, legalise child marriage. Amid a walkout by BJP MLAs, the law was passed via a voice vote.
Not only the BJP, but several independent MLAs close to the Gehlot government are anguished and have been opposing the law. Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha had said, "Many people who educate their children don’t like child marriages. But if you justify child marriages, this will send a wrong marriage before the nation. The Rajasthan Assembly will be humiliated before the entire nation”.
The opposition objected to the amendment of Section 8 of the 2009 Act, saying that it should be done away with.