Imatges de pÓgina

may vary in different climates. But an engagement between infants is never contemplated by any legal authority, much less are the sufferings of widowhood contemplated by Sruti or Smriti, on a girl whose polygamous husband dies before she has even seen him. That argument has been treated with so much learning by your own scholars and lawyers that nothing more need be said on it. The study of Sanskrit, even by so called Mekkhas like myself, begins to bear fruit. You remember how in the case of Suttee, the Shastris quoted passages from a lost Sánkhâ of the Veda, intended to show that widows should be burnt with their husbands. They actually tampered with a passage from their own sacred Veda, and not till I published the passage from the Asvalayana Grihya Sutras, forbidding widow burning, would they become silent. With regard to the proper age for marriage, I published the important passages in my Hibbert Lectures in 1878 p. 352-3, and as these lectures are being translated under your auspicies, I doubt whether any Shastri now will dare to invoke either Sruti or Smriti in support of infant marriage. But, of course, they will invoke the authority of Akara or Desadharma, unless they remember that custom and local law have no authority when. ever they conflict with Sruti or Smriti,




1. K. KRISHNASWAMI RAO, CHIEF JUSTICE, TRAVANCORE.—I would prohibit the marriage of males after the

age of 50.

The legislation I propose has the support of the Shastras, for according to them none who is more than 50 years old 2. C. RAMCHANDRA AIYAR, SUB-JUDGE, MADURA.--I would respectfully suggest that a simple prospective legislation be passed, providing that a betrothed infant girl losing her husband before consummation of the marriage or nuptials, shall not be considered a widow, and shall not be entitled to claim the rights of a widow under the Hindu law, but shall be treated as a maiden of her parents having all the rights as such under the Hindu law....

should marry.

I would further suggest the renewal of the old Hinda law now considered by the Hindus as obsolete, that a boy should marry after passing through the period of studentship.

3. S. SUBRAMANIA AIYAR.—I do not think that Government will be well advised to interfere actively with such usages by legislation. At the same time I do not see any objection to indirect encouragement on the part of Government. I certainly think with Mr. Malabari, that the restriction to confer university honours to unmarried men will have a deterrent effect on early marriages. I would even go a little further, and recommend that no boy under 16 be allowed to appear for any university or public examination, if he is married.

4. R. RAGUNATH RA0.--I am sure the government would not sanction anything against Hindu law, if they prohibited marriages of girls of less than 10 years, and encouraged those of developed maidens.

The Sastras of the Hindus do not sanction marriages of elder women to younger men.

Government may prohibit such marriages also.

5. T. PATTABHIRAM.-Until caste becomes a thing of the past, there is no hope of preventing the marriage of girls before years of discretion among Brahmans....

An enactenent laying down a rule that money received from the (aged) bridegroom, save and except that which is paid for the marriage expenditure, should be safely deposited in the bride's name and exclusively for her use, will, I believe, not only be a great boon to the'poor infant victim, but will also serve

as a wholesome check against inhumane parents thus sacrificing and selling their female children for their own benefit. It is a fit subject for the interference of Government.

6. MAHIPATRAM RUPRAM. I beg to suggest the enactenent of a Marriage Act, which shonld contain the following points.

1. Compulsory registration of all births in municipal offices in cities and towns, and in the Taluka Local Boards' offices in the villages.

2. The Municipal and Taluka Local Boards' offices to give certificates of birth to each party, containing the names of the child and parents.

3. No marriages to be allowed to take place without a license from Municipal authorities in towns and cities, and from Local Fond Boards in the villages. These boards to give marriage certificates.

4. Certificates of births to be shown along with an application for a License.

5. The Municipal and Local Fund Commissioners to be authorized to fix the minimum ages of brides and bridegrooms before which no license can be given, and to raise the same from time to time as they may think proper.

6. Nominal marriages such as take places among the Kadwa Kunbis in Gujarat at an interval of 12 years, in which a girl is married to a bunch of flowers &c., may be exempted from the age rule, but in such cases all second marriages must take place under the rule........

The Hindu law forbids the taking of money or any other gratification or reward by parents or guardians, from bridegrooms or their relations, for marrying their daughters. In this respect some legislative action may be taken to protect the interests of infant girls.

7. JOTEERAO GOVINDRAO PAULAY.Government should rule that, boys under 19 years of age and girls under 11, should not be allowed to marry. In case they do, some reasonable

tax may be levied on the parents of the parties married, and the money thus obtained should be used in the education of the middle and lower classes of Hindus.

8. NARAYEN BHIKAJI, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, NASIK.-I beg to state that the marriage system among the Hindus does require a little reform, and shall be glad to see an act passed by Government :

1stly. That no boy before the age of 16 and no girl before the age of 11 be betrothed, on pain of a fine not exceeding Rs. 1000, recoverable with distress and sale of the offenders property. This ruling is not opposed to the present custom followed by the educated men, and therefore will not be objected to

2ndly. That no old man, that is a person about 40 years of age, should marry a girl below the age of 12, and then too (i.e. at 12) without her written consent recorded before Punch to be appointed for the purpose. Girls of the age of 12 bave sense enough to express their assent or dissent about the husbands selected for them by their parents. (This law to be made applicable to towns and villages on application of the inhabitants.)

9. K. C. BEDARKAR.—If India has to wait till public opinion is sufficiently educated to be able to effect radical changes, it may have to wait till Doomsday.

Under the peculiar circumstances of India, I think, that the interference of the State, where it advances general welfare, would not be out of place, and legislation tending to check infant marriages will undoubtedly advance general welfare.

As to whether State interference should be direct or indirect, I am decidedly of opinion that it should be direct.......

The interference of the State, I think, may safely go to the extent of their enacting that no marriage of a girl under 13 or of a boy under 17, shall be legal in any part of British India in any caste or community. An interference to this extent will neither be violent, nor abrupt, nor open to serious

religious objection. I dare say a storm will be raised at first, but it will soon subside, leaving the social atmosphere clearer and healthier. In castes in which infant marriages are most frequent, and in which infants of the most tender age are married, instances can be found of girls remaining unmarried till 14, and sometimes 15, and I can think of no authenticated instances in which they have led to excommunication. And as to instances of boys remaining unmarried till 20, they can be found in the best and wealthiest families all over India.

10. TRIMALRAO VENKATESH.—Nothing short of stringent legislative enactments can stop infant marriages and all the attendant evils.

Enactment proposed by this gentleman. I. No boy, until he is 20 and no girl until she is 12 years old, shall marry or be married.

II. No man shall during the life-time of his first wife marry another woman, unless the first wife has not borne any children up to 10, or has borne only girls up to 12, or all of her children have died up to 15, years from the time of her commencing to live with her husband, or it is proved that she has committed adultery. Even then, he is to make full provision for the maintenance of the first wife &c.

III. No man who may have one or more sons, and whose wife has just died, and who has passed the age of 45 years, shall marry a virgin girl, unless he leaves a written permission, permitting, in case of his death, his new wife to remarry some other person, if she is minded to do so, provided that he may remarry a widow of any age.

No amount of education, persuation, and lecturing will be able to improve matters. Uuless the legislature takes the matters into its own hands, and makes suitable provisions, matters will continue to remain as they are at present.

11. HURRICHUND SADASIVJI SATE.-Government might show its disapproval of the practice (Infant Marriage) in strong terms, and even go further, and legislate that no

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