The Delhi High Court on Monday sought to know Centre’s stand on a plea seeking abolition of the different minimum age for marriage of men and women on the ground that it is “completely against the global trends”.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also issued a notice to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Law Commission of India on a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) alleging that the “distinction is based on patriarchal stereotypes and has no scientific backing”.
The bench directed the government to file their affidavit by the next date of hearing on October 30.
The PIL was filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who apprised the court that “while men in India are permitted to get married only at the age of 21, women are allowed to get married when they are 18.”
Challenging the “discriminatory minimum age limit for marriage for men and women in India”, the advocate said in his plea that the “Law Commission of India in its 205th report had observed that there exists no scientific basis for such a distinction”.
“The Law Commission of India in its Consultation Paper on Reform of Family Law has stated that the differential ages for marriage simply contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands,” stated the report.
The PIL stated that this differential bar discriminates against women, thus contravening the fundamental principles of gender equality, gender justice and dignity of women and breaches Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
The petitioner claimed that more than 125 countries in the world have a uniform age of marriage for men and women. Noting this fact, the National Human Rights Commission, pursuant to the National Conference on Child Marriage held in New Delhi on August 29-30 2018, recommended that India follow suit and bring uniformity in the minimum age limits.
“That the right to live with dignity implies the right to not be perceived as unequal or inferior individuals in the society. In other words, it implies the right to an equal social standing and perception,” the PIL said.