Court challenge to new Marriage Act …BE SERIOUS, SAT

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Although the new Marriage Bill was unanimously passed in Parliament last Friday, Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, is threatening to take the matter to court.

Maharaj is against The Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill, 2016 which increases the legal age for marriage to 18. Two days after legislation was unanimously passed in the House of Representatives outlawing child marriages, he said he is exploring his legal actions.

Is Maharaj for real? He was hoping that the Opposition would oppose the Bill after the debate. Well, the Opposition supported the Government and 35 members voted for the passage of the Bill in the Lower House.

Maharaj described the new law as a travesty which destroys family life. He claims politicians are inviting themselves into citizens’ bedrooms by deciding at what age to get married and have sex.

Maharaj said the right way for a Hindu child to be raised is with the support of its parents, teachers and religious organisations.

He added, “We also believe that the worst role models in the world are the politicians. You study the history of the world and you notice that some of the most immoral people across the world are politicians.”

Maharaj was opposed to increasing the legal age of marriage to 18.

Previously, under the Hindu Marriage Act, girls could marry at age 14 and boys at 18. He said that law, which had existed for almost 100 years, was adequate for the Hindu community.

He declared, “I do not support any interference by any politician in how we raise our family and the values we teach because many of them have no values of their own.”

He said the Maha Sabha had a team following developments with the legislation and is awaiting their advice.

Maharaj added, “If they tell us to go forward with legal remedies we will go forward because we believe that under the Constitution the right to practice your religion is guaranteed. Once we start at the initial stage remember we are going to go straight up to the Privy Council.”

Maharaj said the Maha Sabha’s position is that Government is interfering with its religious affairs.

He added, “And we resist that from any politician. At this stage in the development of the Hindu community we cannot find a Hindu girl that is getting marriage under the age of 18. These girls are now interested in pursuing secondary and tertiary level education. Society is correcting itself…the families are correcting themselves. We don’t need the politician to tell us how to conduct our family life.”

Maharaj said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who successfully piloted the Bill through both house of Parliament, believes that it is all right for a 16-year-old girl to hold a big gun to shoot, but not to get married with parental consent. That is his belief. My belief is different.”
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