Parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI file)
Parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI file)

Bill to increase marriage age for women introduced in Lok Sabha, referred to Parliamentary panel

Smriti Irani said the bill also seeks to override all existing laws, including any custom, usage or practice governing the parties in relation to marriage.

NEW DELHI:  In the face of an united Opposition flagging far-reaching consequences, including impact on personal laws, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday referred The Prevention of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to the parliamentary standing committee for wider scrutiny and discussion with stake-holders. 
The Opposition cautioned that the government not bulldoze legislations which can have larger ramifications, underlining that members of minority communities have reservations against the Bill.

Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare, Smriti Irani moved the Bill amid a din in the House, arguing that the legislative proposal proposes to ensure equality to men and women. The Bill proposes to increase the minimum age for marriage for women to 21 from 18.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he was surprised to see hurry on part of the government to push this Bill. “There have been no discussion with the stake-holders. Members of minority communities have concerns about the Bill. The hurriedness bares the ulterior motives of the government. It should be referred to the standing committee of the Parliament,” he said.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi also opposed the Bill, saying that the Law Commission in its report had called for maintaining 18 years as the uniform age for marriage for women. “This Bill is going to affect all personal laws,” added Gogoi. 

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy also lent his voice against the Bill, saying that it was violative of Article 25 of the Constitution, while being an attack on the fundamental rights of citizens and the personal laws of various communities.

RSP MP NK Premchandran wondered if the Bill would be enforceable, particularly in rural parts. Going deeper into the legal scales, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi felt the Bill is retrogressive. “This is against the right to freedom under Article 19. An 18-year-old can choose a Prime Minister, can have a live-in relationship, can have sexual relations under the POCSO Act, but the government is denying them the right of marriage,” he said.

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