India didn’t sponsor UN convention due to ‘early marriage’ clause
The United Nations Organisation had adopted a Resolution on “Strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage: Challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps” at the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council held at Geneva in September, 2013. India had issued a strong statement supporting the resolution but when it came to sponsoring the initiative, India refused to join it as a co-sponsor.
Later, an application was filed with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the information about the causes on the basis of which the ministry decided not to co-sponsor the resolution. In its reply to the application, the ministry said that due to lack of clarity on the issue of eliminating early marriages the government decided not to sponsor the resolution.
The reply stated that India supports the purpose of the resolution when it comes to preventing and eliminating child marriages and forced marriages but on the issue of preventing and eliminating 'early marriages', there is no consensus about the proper defining age of an early marriage and endorsing the terms of resolution could also have contradicted our existing laws. The ministry said that if there would have been greater legal clarity on the term, India could have co-sponsored the resolution.