- GS-1: Issues relating to Women and Children
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Mandatory Registration of Marriages
Context: Recently, Rajasthan amended the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, which provides for mandatory registration of marriages, including child marriages.
What is the new amendment about?
- The amendment provides that if the bride hasn’t completed 18 years of age and/or the groom hasn’t completed 21 years of age, then their parents or their guardians should register the marriage within 30 days.
- It was alleged by opposition that it justifies child marriage for the state giving certificates to minor kids.
- But the government argues that the bill doesn’t make the marriage legal and the District Collector can take action against them.
- According to the National Family Health Survey-4 data collected in 2015-16, 16.2% of the girls aged 15 to 19 years were married before the age of 18 in the State,
Many claim that registration of child marriages will encourage/legitimise child marriage. Is this true?
- Registration of child marriages is not meant to legitimise them. Every minor still has the right to get his or her marriage annulled upon becoming major.
- The government has contended that the amended provisions will only streamline the registration process, without changing the status of nuptial ties of minors.
- The registration signals that marriage has taken place, secures a status for the girl especially the legal rights of the underage party
- It may even help in prosecution of those solemnising child marriages and implement provisions relating to maintenance and residence of the girl whose marriage is invalidated later.
- Also, by a Supreme Court order in in Seema vs. Ashwini Kumar, 2006, all marriages including child marriages have to be registered, and this is not a new development. SC has stated that the reason for ‘registering’ a child marriage, or any marriage, is to ensure the rights of the bride.
- Supreme Court observed that even though registration itself could not be proof of a valid marriage as such, it would have great evidentiary value in the matters of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock of the two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of parties to the marriage.
- Therefore, registration does offer advantage to the girl as it secures her matrimonial rights making it possible for her to claim these rights in a court of law
Legality of Child Marriage in India
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 is enacted for the prohibition of solemnisation of child marriages.
- A male who has not completed 21 years of age and a female who has not completed 18 years of age is a ‘child’ for the purpose of this Act.
- Under the law, child marriages are not void, but only voidable at the instance of one of the parties, who may approach the court for nullifying the marriage within two years of attaining majority.
As a fallout of this controversy, Parliament ought to consider the Law Commission’s recommendation to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to make child marriages below 16 years void, and those solemnised when either party was between 16 and 18, voidable.
Connecting the dots: