Marriage between minors is "valid" and it can be annulled only on the plea by one of the partners, the Delhi high court ruled on Wednesday.
"A marriage in contravention of clause (iii) of section 5 (which fixes minimum age of twenty-one years for bridegroom and eighteen years for bride) does not fall in the category of void marriages nor does it fall in the category of voidable marriages. Consequently, by the process of elimination, it would be a valid marriage," the court said. A bench of Justices B D Ahmed and V K Jain said that even under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act the marriage involving minors has not been declared as invalid and the Act just says that the marriage can be annuled on this ground if plea is made by the minor partner.
"It is clear that where, earlier, a child marriage may not have been voidable under personal law, as in the case of the Hindu Marriage Act, by virtue of the section 3 of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, it has explicitly been made voidable at the option of the child spouse. But nobody other than a party to the marriage can petition for annulment of the marriage," the court said.
It said the legislature while drafting the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act had consciously left out marriages in contravention of the age stipulation from the category of void or invalid marriages.
The court passed the order on a petition filed by a minor boy who tied knot with a minor girl against the wishes of their family members after fleeing from home.Eighteen-year-old Jitendra Kumar Sharma approached the court after a criminal case was registered against him on the complaint of family members of 16-year-old minor girl Poonam Sharma who alleged the boy had abducted her.