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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Congress leader H.R.A. Choudhury slams Assam cabinet's decision to repeal Muslim marriage act

The Gauhati High Court advocate labelled the move as politically motivated, alleging it aimed to 'polarise' voters ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. He disputed the reasons cited by the cabinet, asserting they were 'redundant'

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 25.02.24, 07:50 AM
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma. File picture

Senior advocate and Congress leader H.R.A. Choudhury has criticised the Assam cabinet's decision to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1935, punching holes in the claims made by the latter to scrap the legislation.

The Gauhati High Court advocate labelled the move as politically motivated, alleging it aimed to "polarise" voters ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. He disputed the reasons cited by the cabinet, asserting they were "redundant".

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Choudhury said the cabinet’s claim that marriage registration wasn’t mandatory under the act was inaccurate. He pointed to a 2010 amendment mandating compulsory registration. He also dismissed concerns about underage marriages, suggesting that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, could address such issues.

“The state government has the right to repeal the act but what we are objecting to is the grounds it has cited. The cabinet (according to the X post) said registration is not mandatory, which is factually incorrect. The said act was amended in 2010, stating on the first page itself, that it is ‘An Act to provide for compulsory registration of Muslim Marriage and Divorces’,” he said.

The Congress leader also said: “Section 2A of the act starts with the line ‘Registration of Muslim marriages compulsory — Subject to other provisions of this Act and the rules made there under, registration of Muslim marriages and divorce are compulsory within the state of Assam’.”

The term “voluntary” was substituted in the 2010 amendment, said Choudhury.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma defended the repeal, citing the prevention of child marriages as a primary motivation.

However, Choudhury criticised the lack of alternative amendments and argued that the repeal would inconvenience Muslims by transferring registration duties to the district administration.

Furthermore, the cabinet’s decision to compensate Muslim marriage registrars and transfer registration records to district authorities elicited controversy. Choudhury accused the government of exploiting the issue for political gain and urged reconsideration.

Opposition parties, including the AIUDF and the AJP, echoed Choudhury’s concerns. Lurinjyoti Gogoi of the Assam Jatiya Parishad emphasised the importance of consulting community scholars before making such decisions, warning against actions that could incite social unrest.

The debate underscores the sensitive nature of religious legislation and the need for transparent, community-inclusive policymaking.

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