The Rajasthan government’s decision to register all marriages, including child marriages, has stirred a huge controversy. The NGOs are protesting against this saying it would promote child marriages.
But the government claims this won’t give legal sanction to the social evil. The Bill requiring registration of all marriages was passed last year. The government has now started the process to frame the law.
According to official figures, over 68% girls in the state are married by the age of 18. Hundreds of child marriages take place, especially in the tribal belt on ‘Akha teej’, considered one of the most auspicious days for weddings. This, despite the government forming teams in all districts to ensure that children are not forced into marriages.
‘‘The decision is contradictory to the law of registration of marriages, which stipulates bride’s minimum age at 18 and the groom’s 21. Else, the marriage is considered illegal. So how can an illegal marriage be registered?’’ asked PUCL convenor Kavita Srivastav.
She said the state government needs to specifically explain if it was planning to lower the minimum marriage ages. ‘‘Marriages can be registered only if the age limits are lowered. In that case, there’s no question of child marriage,’’ she said, adding that PUCL along with several other organisations is considering approaching the Supreme Court.