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82 Rísthan MLAs tied knot in childhood
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, May 17
Even as child marriages were solemnised in a clandestine manner at various places in Rajasthan on the occasion of Akha Teej (Akshay Tritiya) on Sunday, a glance at the Rajasthan Assembly website reveals that more than one third of the House membersí marriage, too, falls under this category.

The Rajasthan Assembly website -- www.rajassembly.nic.in -- has marriage dates of 184 of the total 200 members of the House. Of these, 82 members got married before the constitutionally valid age for marriage (21 in case of men and 18 in case of women), which means 41 per cent of MLAs were underage at the time of their marriage.

Talking about the state Cabinet, out of 35 ministers and parliamentary secretaries the marriage of 12 comes under the category of child marriage. Interestingly, even the Assembly Speaker, Deependra Singh Shekhawat, got married at the age of 20 years and 11 months. The Congress has 47 MLAs and the BJP has 26 MLAs who got married before attaining the constitutionally valid age for tying the knot.

Among the Cabinet ministers, Agriculture Minister Harji Ram Burdak got married at the age of 17 years, Education Minister Bhanwarlal Meghwal at 17 years, Co-operative Minister Parsadi Lal Meena at 14 years, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Mangi Lal Garasiya at 14 years, Minister of State for Information and Public Relations Ashok Bairwa at 17 years, Minister of State for Forest and Environment Ram Lal Jat at 18 years, Minister of State for Agriculture Bharosi Lal Jatav at 12 years, and Minister of State for Khadi and Gramodyog Golma Devi at 12 years.

Among parliamentary secretaries, Giriraj Singh tied the knot at the age of 17 years, Ramkesh Meena at 18 years, Nanalal Ninama at 20 years and Brahmadev Kumawat at 19 years.

Prominent among the BJP MLAs who had child marriages include Rohitash Sharma, Prabhu Lal Saini, Phul Chand Bhinda, Nirmal Kumawat, Radheshyam Ganganagar, Ashok Peecha, Rajkumar Rinwa, Hari Singh Rawat, and Otaram Dewasi.

The minimum age for marriage was first fixed under the Sharda Act in 1929, as per which the age for marriage was set at 18 years in case of males and 14 years in case of females. Later, the age was reviewed under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, as per which the minimum age at the time of marriage should be 21 in case of males and 18 in case of females. Most of Rajasthan MLAs got married after the Act came into effect in 1954.

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