NEW DELHI: The Centre is reconsidering the minimum age of marriage for girls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day speech on Saturday.
“We have set up a committee to reconsider the minimum age for marriage of girls. The Centre will take a decision on the same after the committee submits its report," Modi said in his address to the nation on its 74th Independence Day.
Currently, the legal age of marriage for girls in India is 18.
In June this year, the Centre had formed a 10-member task force under politician Jaya Jaitley, to recommend, among other things, whether the legal age of marriage for women could be changed from 18 years.
The other members in the panel include Dr V K Paul, member (health) Niti Aayog, secretaries of higher education, school education, health, women and child development, legislative department apart from academicians Najma Akhtar, Vasudha Kamat and Dipti Shah.
The constitution of the task force by the Union Women and Child Development ministry followed an announcement by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her budget speech in February.
“Women’s age of marriage was increased from fifteen years to eighteen years in 1978, by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929. As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers,” she had said.
“There are imperatives of lowering MMR as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time.”
“I am sure recommendations of the Task Force based on imperatives of lowering MMR, improvement of nutritional levels & increasing higher education opportunities, will greatly help in policy-making for the overall well-being of young girls,” Union WCD minister Smriti Irani had tweeted on June 4 after her ministry notified the task force.