Parliamentary panel wins extension to consider Child Marriage Bill

NEW DELHI: President of Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu has granted an extension to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports for the Child Marriage Ban (Amendment) Bill 2021 , which proposes raising the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21. Notably, Rajya Sabha’s tenure for Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and sports Vinay Sahastrabuddhe recently expired.

While Sahastrabuddhe no longer continues to be a member of the Upper House, the appointment of a new chairman for the committee is still pending. Bearing this in mind, Rajya Sabha Speaker Naidu has granted a further extension of time to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports until July 24, 2022 , for presenting his report on “The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021,” the householder reads. Earlier in the budget session, the Rajya Sabha Speaker granted an extension to the Committee to submit its report before June 24, 2022.

The parliamentary group was seized of the marriage bill during the last winter session of Parliament. The much talked about Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 proposes to raise the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21.

The 31-member panel includes single woman Rajya Sabha, All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) MP, Sushmita Dev. Several deputies, including Sushmita Dev from Trinamool and Priyanka Chaturvedi from Shiv Sena, opposed the composition of this committee, which included only one woman.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 proposes to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA) to set the age of marriage at 21 for both men and women, which is currently 21 for males and 18 for females and consequential changes in laws relating to the age of marriage, namely the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872; “The Parsi Law on Marriage and Divorce, 1936”; “The Muslim Persons (Sharia) Law Enforcement Act 1937”; ‘The Special Marriage Act, 1954’; “Hindu Marriage Act 1955”; and “the Marriage Abroad Act 1969”. Also the laws, namely “the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956”; and “Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956”. The guiding principles of state policy (especially the right to equality and the right against exploitation) under the Constitution of India guarantee gender equality.

The proposed legislation is a strong step towards the government’s commitment to the same as it will put women on an equal footing with men. There are imperatives for lowering the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and improving nutrition levels as well as increasing the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB). These are the main reasons for applying the proposed legislation.

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