The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has asked the government to withdraw the controversial order fixing 16 years as the marriage age of Muslim girls, terming it a violation of the land’s laws.

CPI (M) State unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, in a statement here on Saturday, said there was strong opposition to the order from progressive people even within the Muslim community. The marriage age had been fixed at 18 years because of the perception that girls should attain that age to be mentally and physically prepared for marriage.

The country had passed laws against child marriage. The Chandy government’s order had thrown to the winds such progressive legislations, he said.

Mr. Vijayan said the circular issued by the Local Administration Principal Secretary was illegal. It had directed civic bodies to register marriages of Muslim women above 16 years and men who have not attained the age of 21 years upon furnishing a certificate from religious regulatory institutions.

Fundament rights

Mr. Vijayan said the State legislature had approved the relevant rules to conform to the ruling of the five-member Bench of the Supreme Court directing States to pass legislation to make 21 and 18 as the marriage age of men and women. He said that the government secretary’s action of nullifying the rules approved by the State Legislature amounted contempt of the House. Reducing the marriage age would harm the fundamental rights of Muslim women.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan came out with a similar statement terming the State government action a violation of laws and court verdicts. He said the Child Marriage Prohibition act of 2006 had made marriage of men and women below 21 and 18 years of age, respectively, a criminal offence. He wanted the State government to take action against the Local Administration Secretary for issuing the order that amounted to contempt of the Assembly.

Condemnable: KSSP

A Correspondent writes from Kannur: The government directive to legalise marriage between Muslim men and women before attaining 21 years and 18 years of age respectively on the basis of affidavits provided by religious institutions is condemnable, Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad has said.

In a press release here on Saturday, the parishad said girls at the age of 16 did not attain mental, physical, or social maturity.

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