5 Questions: Enforceability of the child marriage bill is doubtful, says N K Premachandran

RSP MP N K Premachandran spoke to Liz Mathew about why he opposed the introduction of the prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 in Lok Sabha.

Today, Opposition MPs objected to the introduction of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill. Why?

This has become a usual practice of the government to bring Bills without prior notice as supplementary business and get it passed. Yesterday, the election laws amendment Bill was also put as a supplementary for consideration and passing… Three stages of a Bill — introduction, consideration and passing — on the same day is not a good practice at all. Members of Parliament are even denied their right to propose amendments.

You had objections only to the way it was introduced?

For a legislation, the most important factor is its enforceability. Here, it is doubtful that the uneducated and unemployed girls would wait till 21 in remote rural India.

The cabinet cleared the Bill last week. Why do you think the government has brought it in a hurry without putting it in the list of businesses earlier?

If the government has bona fide intentions to bring the Bill, they could have very well put it in the list. The cabinet has cleared it earlier. The intent is lacking as the Bill has been hurriedly brought in at the fag end of the session.

But the Opposition’s demand for sending the Bill to the Standing Committee has been accepted.

We are happy that it is sent to the Standing Committee. But it has become a supplementary agenda despite having sufficient opportunities. Also, members have the right to oppose it at the time of introduction. By doing it in a hurry, you have denied that right too because one member should give a prior notice to oppose it at the introductory stage.

In the past too, the Opposition has raised objections to the way the government brought in Bills. Is there any way to address this?

As per the rule, after the introduction of a Bill, there is a second reading which has two stages — discussion on the general principles of the Bill, and the House deciding whether the Bill be referred to a select, standing or joint committee. After getting the report, there are threadbare discussions on the Bill. Unfortunately, this procedure is also flouted.

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