Centre introduces marriage age Bill in Lok Sabha, Opposition criticises move
The Bill, which seeks to increase the legal age for marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, was sent to the Standing Committee.
The Centre on Tuesday introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, which raises the minimum age for marriage to 21 for women, in the Lok Sabha, The Hindu reported. Currently, the minimum of age of marriage in the country is 21 for men and 18 for women.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani introduced the Bill in the Lower House and requested the Chair to refer it to the Standing Committee. While introducing the proposed law, Irani said that voices that have emerged have made it clear that there should be equality for marriage.
The minister said that we are “75 years late” in giving equal rights to men and women to enter into matrimony, according to ANI. “Through this amendment, for the first time men and women will be able to make a decision on marriage at the age of 21, keeping in mind the right to equality,” she said.
However, Opposition leaders, including Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi, Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy raised their objections to the Bill.
Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said copies of the Bill were not circulated in advance and the matter was included only in the Supplementary List today.
“We’d like to advise the government that mistakes happen when work is done in haste,” he added, according to ANI. “Government has neither spoken to any stakeholder nor consulted any state. We demand that the Bill be referred to Standing Committee.”
Owaisi also opposed the Bill, saying that if an 18-year-old can vote, they why cannot she get married.
“What have you [government] done for 18-year-old[s]?” he asked, according to ANI. “Women labour force participation in India lower than Somalia.”
The Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Kanimozhi said that the Centre had not consulted the Opposition or civil society groups before introducing the proposed law.
“The Bill needs to be scrutinised, I condemn the way this government brings all the Bills,” Sule said, according to The Hindu.
Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy remarked that people from the minorities are “totally opposed” to the Bill. “I oppose the way in which the government has brought the Bill in a hurry,” he said. “This Bill needs total discussion among all stakeholders.”
The Bill was sent to the Standing Committee, after which the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke briefly about the Bill during a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj. He claimed that women are happy with the proposal to increase the minimum age of marriage to 21, although it has caused pain to some persons, PTI reported.
“We are trying to increase the age of marriage of women to 21 years so that they can have time to study and progress,” the prime minister said. “The country is taking this decision for its daughters. Everyone is seeing who is having problems with this...it has caused pain to some.”