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Love Marriages in Gujarat may need parents’ nod ?

In recent news, Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel has stated that his government will examine the feasibility of making parental approval mandatory in love marriages, provided it is in accordance with the constitution. His remarks came in response to demands from certain sections of the Patidar community, a dominant electoral group in the state, who want parental consent to be a requirement for love marriages. Hello everyone, this is Zaina Afzal Kutty, and welcome to HW News English. Addressing an event organized by the Sardar Patel Group, a Patidar community outfit, in Mehsana on Sunday, CM Bhupendra Patel mentioned that State Health Minister Rushikesh Patel suggested studying the instances of girls eloping for marriage. The purpose of this study would be to create a system where parental consent becomes mandatory for such marriages. In 2022, the influential Patidar community demanded that at least one parent’s signature be made mandatory for the registration of a marriage if a girl from the community chooses her partner. R.P. Patel, the president of Vishv Umiya Dham, a prominent Patidar organization and the convener of the Patidar Organisation Co-ordination Committee, expressed their intention to submit this demand to the State government. He mentioned that the Patidar community is concerned because some girls from the community choose life partners without informing their parents and marry with the help of two witnesses. They observed that such girls are often under pressure, and they also cited instances of ‘love jihad’ in the past (a term used by certain groups to describe interfaith marriages). During the ongoing budget session, on March 17, BJP legislator Fatesinh Chauhan and Congress member Geniben Thakor demanded that parents’ signatures be made mandatory when adult children choose their partners. They also advocated for marriages to be registered in the same taluka where the man or woman resides. This demand was raised during the Assembly debate on the budgetary allocations of the Legal Department. The lawmakers pointed out the increasing number of elopements and love marriages by young individuals, which they believe necessitates the government’s intervention. They argued that marriages solemnized without parental consent contribute to the crime rate in the State, and they expect that requiring parental consent for such marriages would reduce the crime rate by 50%. Mr. Chauhan, an MLA from Kalol and a prominent face of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, made this statement. In 2021, the Gujarat government amended the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act to penalize forcible or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage. However, this law does not have a specific provision for parental approval. I would like to ask the Gujarat government: even if the constitution supports it, why consider a study on parental approval for marriages when the legal age for marriage in India stands at 21 for men and 18 for women? Currently, there is no constitutional requirement for parental approval, even if couples meet the legal age criteria and choose to elope. Once a person reaches the legal age, not even the Constitution can interfere with their personal lives. So why is the government attempting to enter someone’s personal life and decide whom they should marry? At the age of 18, individuals in India are granted voting rights, yet the Gujarat CM is trying to pass a law that requires parental permission for marriage. How is it justified to allow someone to vote according to their own will but deny them the freedom to marry without someone’s consent? This potential law is being considered because of the demand from the Patidar community, a dominant electoral group in the state. Is the Gujarat government considering this change to secure potential voters for their party? Both the government and Congress are supporting this idea. Congress legislator Ms. Thakor, along with BJP legislator Fatesinh Chauhan, demanded parental consent for adult children to choose their own partners. Additionally, in 2019, during a community meeting, Ms. Thakor raised the issue and emphasized the need for parents to ‘control’ their daughters.

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