Bill on marriage age: Member writes to Par panel chief to allow all women MPs to testify

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev, who is the only woman member of a parliamentary standing committee that is examining the bill for raising the legal age of marriage for females, has written to its chairperson Vinay Sahasrabuddhe requesting him to invoke a rule that will allow all the women MPs to testify before the panel.

The parliamentary standing committee on education, women, children, youth and sports is currently in the process of examining the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which proposes to increase the legal age of marriage for women from 18 years to 21 years.

“These Standing Committees were reconstituted a few months ago, and presently, I am the sole woman member in a committee of 31 members.

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“In reference to this, and under Rules 84(3) and 275 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), I wish to propose that any woman member of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be empowered to testify either in writing or in person before the Committee on this issue,” she said in the letter.

She pointed out that Rajya Sabha has 29 women members, and the Lok Sabha has 81 women members.

“I am sure all my female colleagues will have much to contribute to the discussion on this issue.

“I request you to use the powers of your office to open the meetings of the Committee on this issue to testimonials from any of the Honourable women members, and request you to allot time accordingly,” she said.

According to the members’ list of the parliamentary standing committee, led by senior BJP leader Sahasrabuddhe, available on the Rajya Sabha website, Sushmita Dev is the only woman among the 31 members.

The legal age of marriage for women is being raised by the Centre on the recommendations of the Jaya Jaitly Committee that was constituted by the WCD Ministry in June 2020.

When contacted, Jaitly had said on Sunday that it would be unfair if 50 percent of the committee members are not women.

“I would request all political parties especially those which have been supportive of women reservation to replace their MPs on the panel with female MPs if the system permits or suggest their MPs to consult female MPs while deliberating on this important legislation,” Jaitly had told PTI.

Several other women MPs had also disapproved of the inclusion of only a single woman lawmaker in the panel.

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