Rajasthan passes bill to register child marriages amid huge uproar by opposition

Amid uproar from the opposition BJP, the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021 by voice vote to amend a 2009 Act on compulsory registration of marriages within 30 days of the marriage. The new legislation, opposition BJP has claimed will legitimise child marriages.

While earlier, only the District Marriage Registration Officer (DMRO) was authorised to register the marriages, the Bill passed on Friday empowers the government to appoint Additional DMRO and Block MRO to register marriages. According to the new bill, the bride and groom can apply for registration of marriage to the marriage registration officer of the place where they have been residing for more than 30 days. The bill that has brought child marriage under its ambit states that the marriage between the bridegroom who has not completed 21 years and the bride who has not completed 18 years of age could be registered by the parents or guardians within the 30 days of the marriage, said the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Shanti Kumar Dhariwal in the assembly. However, the Opposition raised an issue with the amendment of Section 8 of the 2009 Act. The 2021 amendment states that the parents or guardians of a bridegroom who is under 21 and a bride who is under 18, “shall be responsible to submit the memorandum, in such manner, as may be prescribed, within a period of thirty days from the date of solemnisation of the marriage to the Registrar.”

After Bharatiya Janata Party leaders at the Assembly vigorously opposed the bill and questioned the provision of registration of child marriages under the bill, Dhariwal said, “The bill does not say that child marriage is valid. The bill says that after marriage, only registration is necessary. It does not imply that child marriage is valid. If the District Collector wants, he or she can still take action against the child marriages”.