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Context: The Spotlight is on the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 The seeks to increase the minimum age of marriage of females to 21 years from the current 18 years.
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”.
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.
Voidable Child Marriage: Under the law, child marriages, although illegal, are not void but “voidable.”
Introduction of a “notwithstanding” clause: This provides for equal application of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act across religions, notwithstanding any customs.
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.
Since the existing Act does not make child marriage automatically illegal, the increase in minimum age might not really benefit women.
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