What's age of marriage for girls? SC


Staff member
New Delhi November 17:

Four years ago, the National Commission for Women (NCW) and its Delhi chapter (DCW) had sought an answer from the Supreme Court as to what should be the age of marriage for a girl, given the different figures given in various laws and the resultant confusion.

Counsel for the commission Aparna Bhat pointed out that despite the lapse of a long time, the Centre has not yet filed its response. A Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma impressed upon additional solicitor general Indira Jaising that "it's a matter of vital importance" and that the Centre should think of amending a few statutes to bring uniformity in the age of marriage.

The question -- "what is the age of marriage" -- was raised before the SC by NCW and DCW citing two judgments, one by the Delhi High Court (October 5, 2005) and the other by the Andhra Pradesh High Court (February 1, 2006) allowing underage girls to marry their beloved.

The HCs, the petitioners said, were aware of the law but ruled in favour of the underage couples in view of the confusion created by a host of laws in force in India at present. While assuring those whose marriages were held valid by the HCs not to worry and carry on with their lives, the apex court had in 2006 asked all courts not to draw inspiration from the two HC orders.

The petitioners had pointed out that as many as seven different laws and regulations existed in the fields pertaining to the minimum age of marriage, definition of child and the age to give consent for sex as well as child marriages in certain areas. There is a lot of disparity in the laws -- Child Marriage (Restraint) Act, The Hindu Marriage Act, the exception to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (dealing with rape provisions), the Shariat, Indian Divorce Act, Child Labour (Regulation) Act and Juvenile Justice Act.

The Bench gave four weeks time to Jaising to come out with a response on this issue even as the ASG said that she would like to understand the object behind each of these laws for which a particular age for adulthood was fixed.