Maharashtra govt plans separate marriage law for Buddhists

The Maharashtra government has proposed formulation of a separate law for marriages in the Buddhist community, the draft of which will be ready by the end of this month, a senior official said here today.

"The Buddhist community has been demanding a separate law for their marriages from the time Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism in Nagpur in 1957," an official from the Social Justice Department told PTI here today. 

Marriages of Catholics, Jews, Parsis and Muslims are already covered under the Hindu Marriage Act, but Buddhists are not covered under this Act, he added. 

"The proposal for a separate Buddhist marriage act was first put forth by former state cabinet minister Nitin Raut in 2007. It came after a Nagpur court deemed the marriage of a Buddhist couple as invalid as it was solemnised as per the Buddhist rituals and there was no specific marriage act for the community," the official added.

Based on Raut's proposal, a committee comprising Principal Secretaries of various departments, including Women and Child Welfare, Law and Judiciary, Social Justice as well as Commissioner of Social Welfare and Chairman of SC/ST Commission was constituted in the same year.

"The state SC/ST Commission chairman (C L Thool) found some discrepancies in Raut's proposal, following which a fresh plan was made. This proposal was discussed by the committee two days back and another meeting is to be held on May 7," the official said.

The proposal will then be finalised by the committee, and will subsequently be put before the general public on the Social Justice Department website for suggestions and objections, he added.

After a designated time, the suggestions/objections will be cleared by the committee and the Bill will then be tabled before the state legislature. 

"The draft will be ready by May 31. But it is unlikely that this proposal will be tabled in the monsoon session. But, it is most likely to get tabled in the subsequent session of the Legislature," the official said.

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