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What happened ? Plea has been filed in Delhi and Rajasthan High Court to declare a ‘uniform minimum age’ for marriage. The Supreme Court has decided to examine this plea to transfer to itself cases pending in the High Courts regarding declaration of uniform minimum age for marriage.

Reason for this plea : Plea has been filed to ‘secure gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women’.

Why the transfer plea is filed?

Different legal rules and guidelines state that the minimum age for getting married is 18 years for girls and 21 years for males. There is lack of uniformity in age of marriage and several PILs may be filed in the High Courts seeking uniform age of marriage which lead the petitioner to approach the court.

The petition states that to avoid multiplicity of the litigations and conflicting views on the interpretation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 and judgments on gender justice and gender equality, the court may be pleased to transfer these PILs and decide them collectively.

Uniform age need of the hour | The plea asks the centre to take reasonable steps to remove the anomalies regarding minimum age of marriage and make it gender-neutral, religion-neutral and uniform for all the citizens in the spirit of the basic rights of equality and proper to life and worldwide conventions. Petition states that the minimum age of marriage should be 21 years for all the residents.

Why different minimum age of marriage for men and woman ?

The difference in minimum age of marriage of a male and female is based on patriarchal stereotypes and perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women, and goes completely against the global trends.

The petition referred the provisions of different legislations which provide for distinction in minimum age of marriage such as Indian Christian Marriage Act, Parsi Marriage Act and Divorce Act, The Special Marriage Act, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

Legal provisions prescribing minimum age :

  • Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act- the bridegroom must have completed the age of twenty-one years and the bride, the age of eighteen years at the time of marriage.

  • Section 60 of the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872- the person intending to be married if male shall not be less than 21 years of age and in case of female, shall not be less than 18 years.

  • Section 3 of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936- In case of any Parsi who is a male must have completed 21 years of age and if a female, 18 years of age at the time of marriage.

  • Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954- At the time of marriage the male must have completed 21 years of age and female the age of 18 years.

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