Governor Kalraj Mishra has put the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill on hold for further scrutiny amid objections to it that the proposed law seeks to legalise child marriages.
Rights groups have called the bill passed last month retrograde. The government has maintained the bill does not legalise child marriages or prevent courts from declaring them void. The bill seeks the registration of all marriages in the state irrespective of age since 2006 as per a Supreme Court order.
An official familiar with the matter said Mishra decided to have the bill examined in view of the objections from the civil society as well as opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which staged a walkout from the assembly against it on September 17.
Jodhpur-based NGO Saarthi Trust has filed the plea against the bill in the Rajasthan high court challenging the constitutional validity of the proposed legislation.
Kriti Bhati, who works for Saarthi Trust that campaigns against child marriages, said the provisions of the bill are unacceptable. “It seems that the government has wrongly interpreted the Supreme Court order, which nowhere seeks to register child marriages. If the government has doubts, it should approach the court for clarification.”
Bhati, who said she has prevented 1,500 child marriages and has had 43 annulled, said the court mandated seeking public opinion and objections before amending the law, which was not done.
Bhati claimed child marriages have not reduced in the state but were being underreported. “The number of such marriages would increase now with the amendment…”