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Activists & Opposition slam state for enforcing ‘child marriage’ during uproar over controversial law

Against the backdrop of concerns that it will encourage child marriages, Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan’s chief minister, has decided to recall the recently passed marriage registration bill to be reexamined. Gehlot said the state government will ask the governor to return the bill for legal consultations. Rights activists and the opposition BJP had objected to a provision in the Rajasthan Compulsory Marriage Registration (Amendment) Bill 2021 that allowed marriage registration even when the bride and the groom were under the legal age for marriage. It has been argued in the country that this law will encourage child marriage. ‘We decided that it was not a question of our prestige. We will request the governor to return the bill we have passed,’ said Gehlot at the International Girl Child Day celebration.

According to him, the state government is working ‘strongly’ to eradicate child marriage completely. ‘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,’ he tweeted. According to Gehlot, the Supreme Court ordered the registration of every marriage after the bill was introduced and passed. ‘The Supreme Court stated that marriage should be registered, be it of anyone. In view of this, a bill was passed in the assembly, but a controversy erupted that this law would encourage child marriage,’ he said.

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In response to opposition BJP MLAs who walked out of the assembly on September 17, the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly passed the bill. Shanti Dhariwal, the State Parliamentary Affairs Minister, stated in the Assembly that the proposed legislation permits marriage registration, but does not specify that such marriages will become valid. The minister pointed out that if it is child marriage, the collector of the particular district and his or her officers will be in a position to take action against the families. A memorandum must be submitted by parents or guardians if a couple has not reached the legal age of marriage within a prescribed time frame. This is the objective of the amendment bill, as stated in its statement. As long as their families are informed within 30 days, Dhariwal said even young couples can register their marriages.



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