The Act was introduced in the parliament as it was felt that though the Child Marriage (Restraint) Act, 1929 was effective in its own way, there were some necessary changes to make it absolutely effective.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
1. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 was enacted with a view to restraining solemnization of child marriages. The Act was subsequently amended in 1949 and 1978 in order, inter alia, to raise the age limit of the male and female persons for the purpose of Marriage; The Act, though restrains solemnization of child marriages yet it does not declare them to be void or invalid. The solemnization of child marriages is punishable under the Act.
2. There has been a growing demand for making the provisions of Act more effective and the punishment there under more stringent so as to eradicate or effectively prevent the evil practice of solemnization of child marriages in the country. This will enhance the health of children and the status of women. The National Commission for Women in its Annual Report for the year 1995-96 recommended that the Government should appoint Child Marriage Prevention Officers immediately.
It further recommended that— (i) the punishment provided under the Act should be made more stringent; (ii) marriages performed in contravention of the Act should be made void; and (iii) the offences under the Act should be made cognizable.
3. The National Human Rights Commission undertook a comprehensive review of the existing Act and made recommendations for comprehensive amendments therein vide its Annual Report 2001-2002. The Central Government, after consulting the State Governments and Union territory Administrations on the recommendations of the National Commission for Women and the National Human Rights Commission, has decided to accept almost all the recommendations and give effect to them by repealing and re-enacting the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
4. The salient features of the Act are as follows:—
(i) To make a provision to declare child marriage as voidable at the option of the contracting party to the marriage, who was a child.
(ii) To provide a provision requiring the husband or, if he is a minor at the material time, his guardian to pay maintenance to the minor girl until her remarriage.
(iii) To make a provision for the custody and maintenance of children born of child marriages.
(iv) To provide that notwithstanding a child marriage has been annulled by a decree of nullity under the proposed section 3, every child born of such marriage, whether before or after the commencement of the proposed legislation, shall be legitimate for all purposes.
(v) To empower the district court to add to, modify or revoke any order relating to maintenance of the female petitioner and her residence and custody or maintenance of children, etc.
(vi) To make a provision for declaring the child marriage as void in certain circumstances.
(vii) To empower the courts to issue injunctions prohibiting olemnization of marriages in contravention of the provisions of the proposed legislation.
(viii) To make the offences under the proposed legislation to be congnizable for the purposes of investigation and for other purposes.
(ix) To provide for appointment of Child Marriage Prevention Officers by the State Governments.
(x) To empower the State Governments to make rules for effectively administration of the legislation.
5. The Act seeks to achieve the above objects.