The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports will examine the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill in its first meeting on April 13. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the winter session.
The committee, headed by BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, will hear members of the Jaya Jaitley committee, who will testify on Wednesday, in its first meeting. The committee was recently given an extension of another three months to probe the “demand for grants”. The panel now has to submit its report by June 24 this year.
Earlier, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sushmita Dev had said that it was not appropriate to examine such a bill in a committee where 30 out of 31 members are male members. Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi had also written to Upper House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu urging him to reconsider the committee and include more women members in the committee to ensure a fair probe.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 proposes to amend the existing law to bring about equality in the minimum marriageable age for men and women. The bill proposes to raise the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21.
The Bill will also affect the laws relating to the age of marriage – the ‘Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872’; `Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936`; `Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937`; `Special Marriage Act, 1954`; `Hindu Marriage Act, 1955`; and the `Foreign Marriage Act, 1969`, other than the `Hindu Minorities and Guardianship Act, 1956`; and the `Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956`.
Fundamental rights under the Constitution of India and the Directive Principles of State Policy (particularly the right to equality and the right against exploitation) guarantee gender equality. The government has claimed that the bill aims to reduce maternal mortality rate (MMR), infant mortality rate (IMR), besides improving nutrition level as well as sex ratio at birth.