The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a PIL seeking that the legal marriageable age for men be brought down from 21 to 18 years, as for women, and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on a lawyer for filing such a plea. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul refused to entertain the plea filed by lawyer Asok Pande saying that there was no “public interest” involved in the petition.
The plea, which has referred to various provisions of statutes dealing with the issue of majority, said a male is eligible to vote in elections at the age of 18 years, but he cannot marry. “Dismissed with a cost of Rs 25,000,” the bench said and also rejected the plea that the fine be waived.
“If any 18-year-old person approaches us with such kind of a petition, then we will give him the cost deposited by you (Pande),” the bench said, adding that such a plea cannot be a matter of “public interest” and an affected person can come to the court.
The petition has challenged the provisions of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the Special Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act which deal with the minimum marriageable age for men and alleged that they are violative of various fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
“The above-mentioned provisions of three different Acts, fixes different age of marriage of the girl and the boy, so the petitioner has come forward to challenge the validity of the Acts,” the petition said.
It contended that the provisions were “unreasonable, unjust and improper” and also violative of Article 15 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Pande in his plea contended that at the age of 18, every male and female get the right to vote and choose their legislators and it is upon attaining the age of 18 years that a person comes out of the definition of a ‘juvenile’.