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Won't allow child marriage in Assam till I am alive: Himanta

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
February 26, 2024 23:25 IST
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Asserting that he will not allow child marriages in the state, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday alleged that opposition Congress and All India United Democratic Front were siding with a "draconian" law which purportedly legalised underage marriage.

IMAGE: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma speaks on the state cabinet approving the ‘Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024’, during the last day of the ongoing budget session of the state assembly, in Guwahati, February 26, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Sarma also asserted in the assembly that his government will bring the Uniform Civil Code through the "front door", while maintaining that the UCC does not deal with traditional practices and rituals.


Members of the Congress and AIUDF, protesting against a Cabinet decision to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1935, staged walkouts later.

The AIUDF had sought an adjournment motion to discuss the Cabinet decision, while the Congress maintained the original act could have been amended without repealing it altogether.

While Speaker Biswajit Daimary disallowed the adjournment motion, the chief minister also said that a discussion can be done when the repeal bill is listed in the proceedings.

As Sarma tried to explain why the repeal was needed, the two opposition parties created noisy scenes in the House leading a visibly agitated chief minister to assert that he will go ahead with banning child marriage.

“This old law allowed registration of marriages between children of five-six years of age. If you want to speak in favour of this draconian law, I will also say that till I am alive, I will not allow child marriage to happen in Assam,” Sarma said, pointing to the opposition benches.

“I won't allow you to carry out business with Muslim children,” Sarma said, specifically targeting the AIUDF."

As the opposition parties continued to create a ruckus, the chief minister switched to speaking in Hindi, saying that he was doing so that his words can reach a wider section of people.

“I want the Congress, AIUDF to know that till Himanta Biswa Sarma is alive, I will not allow child marriages to take place,” the CM said in a raised voice to assert his point.

Protesting against the Cabinet decision, the Congress walked out of the House for 10 minutes. AIUDF legislators initially raised slogans and stormed into the Well of the House, sitting on the floor for over five minutes. They later staged a walkout.

The Act of 1935 contained a provision allowing marriage registration even if the bride and groom had not reached the legal ages of 18 and 21, as required by law.

The chief minister also asserted in the Assembly that his government will bring the Uniform Civil Code through the "front door", while maintaining that the UCC does not deal with traditional practices and rituals.

“The UCC is in Uttarakhand now. The UCC deals with four points -- preventing underage marriage, banning polygamy, inheritance laws and registration of live-in relationships. The UCC does not deal with traditional rituals or practices,” the CM said.

The Uttarakhand Assembly had on February 7 passed a Bill that seeks to impose uniform rules on marriage, divorce, inheritances and live-in relationships for all communities except the Scheduled Tribes.

Sarma had said last month that Assam will be the third state after Uttarakhand and Gujarat to introduce a Bill seeking the UCC and it would exempt the tribal communities from the ambit of the law.

Replying to a discussion on the Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024, Sarma claimed that the government was only trying to curb practices conducted by individuals with malicious intent.

“We will bring the UCC and we will bring it through the front door,” Sarma asserted, reacting to leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia's question during the discussion if the proposed legislation on healing practices a tactic to bring in the UCC by the back door.

The Bill, which was later passed by a voice vote, seeks to eradicate non-scientific healing practices and make 'magical healing' by any person with sinister motive a cognizable and non-bailable offence, with imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to Rs one lakh.

Sarma, referring to a ruckus created by opposition parties earlier in the House over the state Cabinet's decision to repeal the Muslim Marriages and

Divorces Registration Act, said he was saddened at the stance taken by them over such a sensitive issue as child marriage.

On the opposition's objections to the Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024, Sarma maintained that a similar law exists in the form of Centre's ‘The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954'.

“It was passed when the late Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister,” he said.

“When (AIUDF chief) Badruddin Ajmal gives ‘dua' (blessings), we have no problem. But when he tries to buy votes with his ‘dua water', it will be an offence,” Sarma said, evoking reactions from the AIUDF legislators who pointed out that their party chief is also a spiritual leader and people voluntarily approach him for ‘healing'.

Ajmal is often approached by Muslims to blow into their water bottles, by which they believe that the water comes to possess healing qualities.

Independent legislator Akhil Gogoi, seeking the government to clarify the definition of ‘evil practice', stated that most ministers and MLAs themselves wore talismans, etc.

Gogoi said the chief minister himself had red thread tied around his wrist, which is believed to have been obtained through following religious rituals.

In reply, Sarma said, “I have worn this for my own good. We don't have a problem with someone following a traditional system for his or her own welfare, unless any sinister design is involved.”

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.