Lex Scholasticus Journal of Law and Socio-Economic Issues

Rajasthan Compulsory Registration Of Marriages Amendment Bill 2021

Muskan Narwal (Student, Chandigarh University)

“Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women.”— Dr BR Ambedkar

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) charged on September 17 that the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed by voice vote in the state Assembly to amend a 2009 Act on mandatory marriage registration within 30 days of the union, will legitimize child marriages.

What Does The Bill State?

On 17 September, the Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which changes the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, and requires parents or guardians to provide information on child marriages within 30 days after the wedding.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the need for child marriage registration and asked that the law be withdrawn. “How can they include child marriage in this Bill if child marriage is prohibited? All of this is done by Congress in order to create a vote bank.” If this measure passes, the assembly will have a bad day. Is it possible for the assembly to agree to legalize child marriages? We shall approve child weddings by a show of hands. The bill would write a dark chapter in the assembly’s history. Ashok, a BJP MLA.

The BJP questioned the need for child marriage registration and asked that the law be withdrawn “How can they include child marriage” in the Bill if child marriage is prohibited? All of this is done by congress in order to create a vote bank.” If this measure passes the assembly will have bad days. Is it possible for the assembly to agree to legal child marriage? We shall approve a child's wedding by a show of hands. The bill would write a dark chapter in the assembly’s history. Ashok, BJP MLA.

Permitting registration of ‘Child marriage’ would be detrimental to a civilized society, as it is tantamount to give legality to permits the parties, who have not attained the marriageable age to solemnize the marriage, which is otherwise not permissible and is a punishable offense as envisaged under section 9 ‘ The Prohibition Of ChildMarriage, 2006’. The object is to punish males who contract marriage with a minor girl.

Questioning the legislative competency to enact such a Bill, the plea submitted that registration of marriage would come within the ambit of the expression “Vital Statics” in Schedule VII List III Entry 30 of the constitution of India. Therefore state government does not have legislative competence of vital issues relating to compulsory registration of marriage, it was contended future

According To Section 9 (Prohibition Of Child Marriage 2006)

Whoever, being a male adult above eighteen years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years or with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.

According To Section 11 ( Punishment For Promoting Or Permitting Solemnisation Of Child Marriage)

(1) Where a child contracts a child marriage, any person having charge of the child, whether a parent or guardian or any other person or in any other capacity, lawful or unlawful, including any member of an organization or association of persons who does any act to promote the marriage or permits it to be solemnized, or negligently fails to prevent it from being solemnized, including attending or participating in child marriage, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees: Provided that no woman shall be punishable with imprisonment.
(2) For the purposes of this section, it shall be presumed, unless and until the contrary is proved, that where a minor child has contracted a marriage, the person having charge of such minor child has negligently failed to prevent the marriage from being solemnized.

Child Protection Laws and Benefits of Registration of Child Marriages

The Amendment bill does not contravene child protection legislation like the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (“Central Act”), Juvenile Justice Act, and Child Marriage Restraint Act. Child marriage is still an offense and registration of such marriages is not tantamount to permitting them. The opponents of this bill argue that it contravenes sections 8, 9, 11, and 12 of the Central Act which provides punishment for promotion and solemnization of child marriages. However, registration of child marriages does not imply that these marriages are legally valid. The marriage registrars can intimate the Child Marriage Prohibition officers when child marriages are registered. Registering child marriages will also assist in prosecuting those individuals who have solemnized or promoted such marriages. The Kerala high court in Punarjani Charitable Trust v. the State Of Kerala held that the state should ensure adequate proof and increased transparency while penalizing offenders under the Central Act. Therefore, the Rajasthan Government should ensure that they have instructed the marriage registrars about alerting the prohibition officers.

Child marriages in India are not void ab initio; they are voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of marriage. The petition to annul the marriage has to be filed within two years after attaining majority. While rights and obligations subsist even after divorce, there are no rights and obligations after the annulment of a marriage. However, in order to financially stabilize the female contracting party after the annulment, Section 4 of the Act provides for maintenance and residence to the female contracting party until her remarriage. Registration of child marriages allows the minors to assert their legal rights and prevent the other party from denying the marriage at a later stage. The compulsory registration creates documental evidence of the marriage which facilitates access to benefits available under the Central Act. Therefore, registration of child marriages assists in achieving the objectives sought under the Central Act.

Conclusion

In the end, we can conclude that through this amendment, the transparency of the total number of marriages in the country will be revealed easily. It will be easy to count child marriages and later on lawful action can be taken against those who are encouraging or promoting child marriages.

Reference:


1.Prohibition of child marriages act 2006); Section 9 and section 11
https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A2007-06.pdf

2.https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2021/10/dhaval-sheth-compulsory-registration-child-marriages-india/

3.Rajasthan Govt To Withdraw the Disputed Marriage Registration Bill
https://www.thequint.com/news/india/rajasthanashok-gehlot-government-disput ed-marriage-registration-bill

4.https://lawschoolpolicyreview.com/2020/11/23/void-or-voidable-on-child-marriages-under-the-pcma/

5.[WP(C) 16181/2013,WP(C). 16151/2013, WP(C). 16663/2013, WP(C)
https://indiankanoon.org/doc/22182623/#:~:text=Punarjani%20Charitable%20 Trust%20vs%20State%20Of%20Kerala%20on%2012%20February%2C%202019&text=2013%5D%2011%20JUDGMENT-, %5BWP(C)%2016181%2F2013%2CWP(C,2013%2C%20WP(C).

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