The State government has repealed a circular permitting the marriage registration of Muslim women between 16 and 18 years on June 14 and issued a fresh one on Friday directing local bodies to register all marriages solemnised till Thursday as per the Kerala Registration of Marriages (Common) Rules 2008.

The new circular issued by Local Administration Principal Secretary James Varghese said that a confusion prevailed on marriage registration since the rules came into force in 2008. Many local bodies expressed reluctance in registration and it had become a social issue. There were complaints that the previous circular had sent wrong messages and also encouraged child marriages.

The first circular was issued as a clarification sought by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) director on registering the marriages of Muslim women between 16 and 18 years and men who had not attained 21 years on furnishing a certificate of religious institutions.

The circular was issued on the basis of a Supreme Court verdict which said that registration alone would not give validity to a marriage but will be a valid proof regarding the protection of the children and also the age of the couple. The High Court verdicts, which said that marriages of those who had not attained the mandatory age limit could be registered considering the peculiar circumstances, were also considered, the circular said.

The government had also considered the problems faced by couples who had been living together for years without registering their marriage and never intended to go against the Child Marriage Prevention Act. Since it had created such a notion and there were some factual errors in the first circular, the government sought to clarify its stance and issued the latest circular.

The government was committed to implementing the provisions of the Child Marriage Prevention Act. Secretaries of local bodies should exercise caution to prevent such marriages and take legal action too. The Jagratha Samithis of local bodies too should be cautious, the latest circular said.