Cabinet nod to repeal Muslim Marriage Act welcomed by BJP, oppn cries discrimination

PTI | Guwahati | Updated: 24-02-2024 23:34 IST | Created: 24-02-2024 23:34 IST
Cabinet nod to repeal Muslim Marriage Act welcomed by BJP, oppn cries discrimination
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The Assam cabinet's decision to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1935 has been welcomed by the ruling BJP, while opposition parties claimed that the move, which was ''discriminatory against Muslims'', was made to polarise voters in the election year.

The state cabinet on Friday night approved the decision to repeal the Act in a bid to end the social menace of child marriage as it contained provisions allowing registration of marriages even if the bride and groom had not reached the legal ages of 18 and 21 respectively, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

AIUDF Chief Badruddin Ajmal claimed that the repeal of the Act was the first step to bring in the Unified Civil Code (UCC) in Assam, but it will sound the death knell of the BJP government in the state. ''They are trying to provoke the Muslims and polarise voters in their favour,'' Ajmal told reporters on the sidelines of a programme here.

Congress MLA Abdul Rashid Mandal claimed that the decision is "discriminatory" against Muslims as this is the only mechanism for registration of marriages and divorces for Muslims and is valid under the Constitution.

The Goalpara (West) legislator also accused the BJP government of being ''anti-Muslim" and claimed that it is trying to show the Hindu people that the administration is favouring them and depriving Muslims. The government was talking about the UCC and banning polygamy in the state but no such bill or ordinance has been brought in the assembly so far for reasons best known to them, he said. Information and Public Relations Minister Pijush Hazarika, however, wondered how repealing an 89-year-old law that permits marriage between a small girl and an adult man becomes anti-Muslim. "Muslim leaders need to act maturely and stand alongside the interest of our daughters rather than standing for abhorrent social evils,'' Hazarika said in a post on X.

This will help to prohibit child marriages, decrease infant and maternal mortality rates and promote education of the girl child, Tourism Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah said. AIUDF MLA Rafikul Islam claimed that the cabinet decision has been taken with the ''intention of targeting Muslims in an election year'' as the government does not have the courage to bring in the UCC. Islam said that there were attempts to bring in UCC in Assam but the saffron camp will not be able to do so as there are several castes and communities here ''and they know it will not be legally tenable. The BJP is talking a lot about polygamy and the practice is prevalent among various communities who are followers of BJP." There are personal laws for the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains with the constitution allowing different laws for marriages and divorces, he said adding: ''I don't think any state cabinet has the right to cancel the rights given to the people by the Indian constitution." Assam United Opposition Forum General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told PTI that the government should not make unilateral decisions on any issue involving social custom, religious beliefs, and public sentiments. ''The views of the scholars of the communities concerned needed to be sought in these matters. Instead, the BJP government is creating a political issue to provoke a community by teasing their sentiment which may likely cause social unrest," the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) president said.

Eminent lawyer Aman Wadud told PTI that authorised registrars under the 1935 Act won't be able to register Muslim marriages now but it will now happen under the Special Marriage Act, which requires a 30-day notice and a large number of documents.

''This centralised system of registration, by abolishing a decentralised system, will reduce registration of Muslim marriages. Contrary to the government's claim, this will increase the number of unauthorised Qazis and therefore child marriages too,'' Wadud said. Another prominent lawyer Bijon Mahajan told PTI the cabinet decision to repeal the Act is in tune with the current times and it also has the constitutional mandate''.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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