Lawyers for Sat write AG over Marriage Bill
Attorneys acting on behalf of Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) head Sat Maharaj have written to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi requesting certain information related to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill, 2016.
The Bill, which was passed last Friday, increased the legal age for marriage in this country to 18.
Thirty-five Government and Opposition MPs voted in favour of the legislation.
A letter, signed by attorney Asaf Hosein, was delivered to the Attorney General, indicating that a challenge to the Bill has been proposed and is being assessed.
The attorney said for the challenge to be properly assessed, information is required from the AG's office.
Among the information being requested are copies of policy statements related to the Bill, all documents arising out of consultations held by the AG's office. Copies of legal advice and opinions received as to the lawfulness of the Bill as well as the removal of the three-fifths majority clause from the Bill.
The attorney has also requested that the AG's office provide a breakdown of all statistics related to child marriages in this country over the last 25 years and the full text of all speeches made by any government minister related to child marriages.
The attorney noted that Maharaj has been vocal in his criticism of the Bill.
Maharaj has described the passing of the Bill as a travesty and said the Hindu Marriage Act, which allows girls to be married at the age of 14, has existed for a century and was appropriate for the Hindu community.
Hosein called on the AG to put any disagreements between himself and Maharaj aside in the interest of the nation's youth.
"My Client has criticised the purported consultation process and the lack of candour in the debate in the Parliament. You have also been vociferous in your disagreement with my client. However, you must appreciate that this issue is bigger than personalities and paramount importance must be placed on the nation's youth," Hosein said.
He noted that the AG has already signaled that the State is ready to face any legal challenge.
He urged the AG to provide the requested information in a timely manner.
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