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Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Published
    30th Jan, 2024
Context

A parliamentary committee is granted another extension to review the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which aims to increase the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21. The impending end of the Lok Sabha's tenure in June adds urgency to the committee's task, raising questions about the fate of the bill.

Background
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2021, seeks to address the issue of child marriage by raising the minimum age for women.
  • The parliamentary committee responsible for its examination has received several extensions, with the current extension granted until May 2024.

Examining the Bill:

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, aims to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, and increase the minimum age of marriage for females to 21 years.
  • The bill emphasizes overriding any existing laws, customs, or practices related to marriage.

Key Amendments:

1. Age of Marriage Increase:

   The Bill proposes raising the minimum age of marriage for females from 18 to 21 years, aligning it with the age of majority.

2. Annulment Period Extension:

   Under the 2006 Act, individuals married below the minimum age can apply for annulment within two years of attaining majority. The Bill extends this period to five years, allowing annulment before the age of 23.

Key Issues and Analysis:

Age Discrepancy:

  • The proposed minimum age of marriage at 21 is higher than the minimum age of majority, which is 18.
  • The Supreme Court's recognition of marriage between adults as a fundamental right prompts questions about whether restricting marriage for individuals aged 18 to 21 is a reasonable limitation on their right to marry.

Impact on Child Marriage:

  • Despite the minimum age of marriage being 18 since 1978, around a quarter of women aged 20-24 are married before turning 18.
  • This prompts a critical examination of whether increasing the minimum age would significantly reduce the incidence of child marriage.

Committee's Challenges:

  • With the Lok Sabha's tenure ending in June 2024, there is a looming concern about the fate of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
  • The parliamentary committee faces the challenge of ensuring a thorough examination and producing a report before the legislative body dissolves.

The examination of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, holds significance in addressing the persistent issue of child marriage in India. The parliamentary committee's diligence in reviewing the bill and presenting a comprehensive report will play a crucial role in shaping legislative decisions and contributing to the broader goal of safeguarding the rights and well-being of young women.

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