Absurd to Think Men Won’t Do Justice, Says Parl Panel Chief After Row Over Only 1 Woman MP in Committee


In the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, of the 31 members who would be examining the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill that was introduced in Lok Sabha during the winter session, only one is woman lawmaker.

Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev, the only woman lawmaker in committee, on Tuesday wrote to committee chairperson and BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, urging him to allow the all women MPs to testify before the committee regarding the Bill.

Dev said that it was not appropriate for such a Bill to be scrutinised in a committee where 30 of the 31 members were male.

However, Sahasrabuddhe, told CNN-News18, “It is preposterous of anyone to think that men will not be able to do justice to women all the time. Issues related to women do not just concern them alone but to the society on the whole. Marriage is also a societal issue.”

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Rajya Sabha MP from Shiv Sena, has written to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, asking him to reconsider the committee and induct more female members to ensure a fair scrutiny.

“The committee has the mandate to scrutinise the Bill but it will not be done without consulting the stakeholders which also includes women MPs, members from the civil society, women who have been victims of child marriage and even Ministers if required,” Sahasrabuddhe said.

“Casting aspersions on the male members and their intent at this stage is grossly unfair,” he added.

The standing committee is likely to hold its first meeting on the Bill towards the end of January and is likely to present its report during the monsoon session. So far this committee has been asked to present its report in the next three months, but given the fact that during the budget session of Parliament most of the time would be consumed in discussing demand for grants, this bill is likely to come up for consideration and passage only after the committee report in the monsoon session this year.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021’, in the Seeks amendment of ‘The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA)’ for making the age of marriage equal at 21 years for both males and females.

The ‘Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ proposes to amend the ‘Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA)’ for making the age of marriage equal at 21 years for both males and females, which is presently 21 years for males and 18 years for females and consequential amendments in laws relating to age of marriage i.e. ‘the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872’; ‘the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936’; ‘the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937’; ‘the Special Marriage Act, 1954’; ‘the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955’; and ‘the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969’. Also the laws namely ‘the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956’; and ‘Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956’ pertain to this context.

The fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy (particularly the Right to Equality and Right against Exploitation) under the Constitution of India guarantee gender equality. The proposed legislation is a strong measure towards commitment of the government for the same as it will bring women on equal footing with male.

There are imperatives for lowering Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and improvements of nutrition levels as well as increase in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB). These are the main reasons for effecting the proposed legislation.

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