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Increased Age For Girls Marriage

It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to increase the legal marriage age for women from 18 to 21 years, would become effective in 2021 and will replace current marriage and personal laws in the nation.

The Bill, which proposes revisions to the 2006 legislation and was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday by Smriti Irani, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for further debate and deliberation. Irani said that the proposed law was secular in nature. "All women of all religions, whether they are covered by the Hindu Marriage Act or the Muslim Personal Law, should have equal rights to marry," she said.

Members of Congress and other Opposition parties were vocal in their opposition to the Bill and questioned the "hurriedness " with which it was introduced in the House.

This legal shift was formalised by the introduction of legislation in the Lok Sabha on December 21. However, after objections from the opposing parties, it was referred to a parliamentary committee for further consideration. Following the passage of the bill, the new minimum marital age for women will take precedence over all other personal laws; as a result, the legal age of marriage will be increased for all females, regardless of their religious affiliation.

The Indian government raised the legal minimum marriage age for females from 15 to 18 years old in 1978, and the legal minimum marriage age for boys from 18 to 21 years old in 1978.
India is a varied country with a diverse population and a broad range of beliefs; as a result, people's reactions to this law are as diverse as they are. Some people think this is a fantastic move forward by the government, while others believe it has several loopholes.

It is stated in the Bill that "in section 1 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), in sub-section (2), after the words "citizens of India without and beyond India," the words "notwithstanding anything contrary or inconsistent therewith contained in the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937; the Special Marriage Act, 2006;

The proposed modification to define a kid is as follows:
  1. "child" denotes a person or female who has not reached the age of twenty-one'.
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons contained in the Bill, "in order to address the issues of women in a holistic manner, as a measure for empowerment of women, gender equality, increasing female labour force participation, making them self-reliant and enabling them to make decisions for themselves, the Bill proposes to:
  1. Amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to strengthen its application overriding all other existing laws, including any custom;
  2. Amend the Prohibition of The House of Representatives heard Irani say, "I recognise that my choice has ramifications on social, cultural, family, and emotional matters."

I would like to personally recommend, on behalf of the administration, that this matter be considered in further depth in the Standing Committee on Finance. I would like to propose that this Bill be referred to the Standing Committee on the Budget on behalf of the administration." Earlier, opposition lawmakers, while criticising the administration for its "hurried" introduction of the Bill, said that it was a breach of basic rights and that it would have an influence on personal legislation.

The Iranian foreign minister responded to the criticism by saying, "We are 75 years late in offering equal rights to men and women to join into marriage. The marriageable age for women in the nineteenth century was ten years old. By 1940, the term had been extended to 12-14 years. Women who have achieved the age of 15 were legally married in 1978. Men and women will be able to choose their own marriages for the first time as a result of this Bill, which recognises the right to equality."

She reacted angrily to allegations that illiterate women would be unable to comprehend or use their legal rights, calling them "an insult to the women of rural America." She claims that between 2015 and 2020, as many as 20 lakh incidents of child marriage would be prevented or curtailed. According to the National Federation of High Schools statistics, 7 percent of females between the ages of 15 and 18 have been discovered to be pregnant. According to her, up to 23 percent of girls were married before the age of 18, despite the fact that the law prohibits it.

"We want to indicate to the administration that if you do something in hurry, you are more likely to make errors," said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a member of the Congress who is opposed to the legislation. This subject has sparked a great deal of discussion all throughout India.

Furthermore, this administration has not communicated with states or engaged with stakeholders... "We urge that this Bill be sent to the Standing Committee as soon as possible," we write. Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM said that it was a breach of basic rights protected by Article 19. ET Mohammed Basheer of the Islamic University of Malaysia (IUML) said that the Bill was illegal and violated Article 25 of the Constitution. According to him, "this is an assault on personal law and basic liberties in our nation." The Nationalist Congress Party, the DMK, the Shiv Sena, and the TMC have all called for the Bill to be sent to the Standing Committee.

The legal age of marriage for women is being increased by the Centre in accordance with the recommendations of the Jaya Jaitly Committee, which was established by the Ministry of Women, Children and Family Development in June 2020.

When the age of marriage was originally fixed at 16 years, and subsequently increased to 18 years in 1978, what we have said is that the Muslim Personal Law was not amended, but rather that they chose to remain silent. Nonetheless, according to our understanding, Muslims were required to immediately observe the new legislation, even if no amendments were made.

The age of marriage in Islam is not a young one. An further Supreme Court decision said that where a conflict exists between constitutional law and personal law, the Constitutional Law is to be taken into consideration. According to Jaitly, "Our objective is not to cause damage to Muslims; nonetheless, just like with the triple talaq, if any legislation is shown to be in conflict with the Constitution of the nation, the Constitution of the country must triumph."

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