India: After the 2019 parliamentary elections in India, the BJP has accomplished some central, and ideologically loaded, promises - mentioned in the party manifesto: abrogation of Article 370 that granted semi-autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir, construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Prohibition of triple talaq and now raising the legal Marriage age from 18 to 21- an amalgam of uniform civil code, The Himalayan Post has learnt.
Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Women and Child Development has passed the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to raise the age of legal marriage for women from 18 to 21.
The law will apply to all communities in the country and, once enacted, will supersede existing marriage and personal laws including Shariah – Islamic laws.
Introduced in Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian parliament) on Tuesday, the Bill which proposes amendments to the 2006 law was sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for further discussion.
Irani said the proposed legislation was secular. “All women from all faiths, under Hindu Marriage Act or the Muslim Personal Law, should get equal rights to marry.”
In India, the 2006 PCM Act (The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006) had set the legal age for marriage at 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. However, Muslim personal law allows marriage if the boy and the girl have attained puberty, which is presumed once they are both 15 years of age.
Earlier, the government of India abolished Triple Talaq, an Islamic law in August 2017.
Members of the Congress and other Opposition parties opposed the Bill and questioned the “haste” with which it had been brought to the House.
Muslim Leader in India, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi said if 18- year-old girl can have sexual relations under POCSO Act and authority to cast vote, why she should legally marry at the age of 21 and not 18. It was in violation of fundamental rights under Article 19.
Even in the 1998 general elections, the party’s manifesto included a promise to formulate a UCC based on “progressive practices” that would benefit women across religions by giving them property rights, removing discriminatory clauses in divorce laws, and putting an end to polygamy, among other things.