The Lok Sabha on Tuesday was adjourned for the day amid Opposition’s continuous protests over Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni, however, the government was able to introduce the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 amid din.
This Bill seeks to increase the marriage age of women from 18 to 21 years but later, Minister Irani asked the Chair to refer the bill to Standing Committee.
Soon after the House resumed at 2 p.m., BJP member Rajendra Agrawal who was on the Chair, allowed Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani to move the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 amid strong protests by the Opposition bench.
Introducing the Bill, Irani said that it was a step towards gender equality and empowerment.
Giving data, she further said that 20 lakh marriages of underage women have been prevented and the voices that emerged make it clear that there should be equality for marriage.
Opposing the government’s move to introduce the Bill, the Congress Party floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said they continued to demand the removal of MoS Home Ajay Mishra. “We are not against any individual, but we are with the farmers,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury added.
He also said that the government has brought the Bill without consultation with political parties and with the states. “Why is the government bulldozing the Parliamentary norms and introducing Bills without consultations with the political parties?” he asked. This Bill should be sent to the standing committee for further scrutiny, Chowdhury demanded.
TMC Member Saugata Roy and AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the Bill. “An 18-year-old can vote and elect a Prime Minister, have sexual relations under POCSO Act but cannot marry. What message are we sending?” Owaisi said.
Indian Union Muslim League Member E.T. Mohammed Basheer said that it was an attack on personal law while the NCP Member Supriya Sule and K. Kanimozhi of the DMK opposed the manner in which the Bill was introduced in the House. Both women MPs from the Opposition bench argued for stakeholder consultations and feedback from civil society.
“The Bill needs to be scrutinized, I condemn the way this Government brings all the Bills,” Supriya Sule added.
Responding to them, Irani said, “We are 75 years late in a democracy to give equal rights to enter into matrimony. To say that rural women cannot exercise their right is an insult to them,” the Union Minister further added.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for State Arjun Ram Meghwal said that the Bills to amend the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 and the Company Secretaries Act, 1980, should also be referred to the Standing Committee.