Delhi High Court sends plea seeking minimum age for marriage for men, women to Supreme Court [31.1.2023]

Delhi High Court on Tuesday sent to the Supreme Court a petition seeking uniform minimum age for marriage for both men and women.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was informed by the petitioner about the Supreme Court's January 13 order by which the present petition was transferred to the apex court itself.

"In light of the aforesaid order, the matter is immediately transferred to the Supreme Court. The registry is directed to transmit the record immediately to the Supreme Court," the bench said.

On January 13, the apex court transferred to itself the petition filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, which was pending before Delhi High Court, seeking equality in the legal age of marriage for men and women.

The plea before the apex court stated that it had been filed in order to avoid multiplicity of litigations and conflicting views on the interpretation of articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and judgments involving gender justice and equality.

The Centre had earlier informed the high court that a task force was constituted to study the issue of the minimum age of girls entering motherhood.

The high court had granted time to the Centre to file its response to the petition, which says the minimum age limit of 18 years for a woman to get married amounted to "blatant discrimination".

Men in India are permitted to get married at the age of 21.

The petitioner said the plea was filed raising a legal question and forming a task force would not serve the purpose.

It is a matter concerning the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution, he has said.

The high court had earlier sought the Centre's response on the BJP leader's PIL claiming that the difference in the minimum age of marriage for men and women was based on patriarchal stereotypes and had no scientific backing.

The difference in marriage age violated the principles of gender equality, gender justice and dignity of women, the petition claimed.

The petition contended, "The petition challenges a blatant, ongoing form of discrimination against women. That is the discriminatory minimum age limit for marriage for men and women in India.

"While men in India are permitted to get married only at the age of 21 years, women are allowed to get married when they are 18. This distinction is based in patriarchal stereotypes, has no scientific backing, perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women, and goes completely against global trends."

" is a social reality" that married women are expected to perform a subordinate role vis--vis the husband and this "power imbalance" is deeply aggravated by the age difference, it said.

"A younger spouse is, therefore, expected to respect and be servile to her elder partner, which aggravates the pre-existing gender based hierarchy in the marital relationship," the petition stated.

31 Jan 2023