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Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021- Personal Laws in Marriage

Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 1: Salient features of Indian Society- Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021- Personal Laws in Marriage_40.1

 

Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021- Context

  • Recently, the Union Government introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 in Lok Sabha.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women

 

Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021- Proposed Amendments

  • Equal Minimum age of Marriage: Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 aims to amend the definition of a “child” in section 2(a) to mean “a male of a female who has not completed twenty-one years of age”.
    • The Bill makes the minimum age of marriage the same for both men and women.
    • This will help in improving health and social indices such as infant mortality, maternal mortality, and nutrition levels among mothers and children.
  • Increases window for Filing a petition to declare a child marriage void: Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 also increases the window for a “child” to file a petition to declare a child marriage void.
    • Presently, section 3(4) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act allows a woman to file for declaration of child marriage as a void before she turns 20 and for the man before he turns 23.
    • Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 proposes to extend this window for both the woman and the man to five years after attaining the age of 18.
  • Voidable Child Marriage: Under the law, child marriages, although illegal, are not void but “voidable.”
    • Child marriage can be declared null and void by a court when either party to the marriage files a petition under Article 3(4) of the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
    • A “void” marriage, in legal terms, would mean that the marriage had never taken place.
  • Introduction of a “notwithstanding” clause: This provides for equal application of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act across religions, notwithstanding any customs.

Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021

 

Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021- Associated Concerns

  • Since the age of the majority is 18, increasing the age of marriage is viewed as a paternalistic approach by the state in the personal matters of an individual.
  • Critics believe that the application of the child marriage law across faiths also sets a precedence for the state’s interference in the personal laws
  • Violating Article 25 of the Constitution: Many believe that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 is violative of Article 25 of the Constitution.
    • Article 25 guarantees the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion.
  • Increasing the minimum age of marriage may further push many marriages to the brink of illegality and marginalize vulnerable sections.
    • Since the existing Act does not make child marriage automatically illegal, the increase in minimum age might not really benefit women.
  • It could also bring those who aid the marriage of a woman over the age of 18 under the ambit of a law that sanctions imprisonment of up to two years.

The Editorial Analysis- Thinking before Linking

 

Raising Legal Age of Marriage for Women

 

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