Uniform Marriage Age For Men & Women : Supreme Court Issues Notice On Plea To Transfer Petitions From High Courts
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a notice of appeal requesting the move, from the High Courts to the Supreme Court, of cases praying for a uniform marriage age for men and women. In order to avoid numerous lawsuits and opposing views on the interpretation of Articles 14, 15, 21 and judgments on gender justice and gender equality, the high court should move petitions pending before the High Courts of Delhi and Rajasthan to the apex court and determine them together. Upadhyay claimed in his key petition seeking a uniform age for marriage that there are unique religious laws that require a certain age for marriage and that Articles 14 and 21 are discriminatory.
The provisions are:
~Section 60(1) of the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872;
~Section 3(1)(c) of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936;
~Section 4(c) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954;
~Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955;
~Section 2(a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
The petition notes that on July 30, 1980, India signed and ratified the 'Convention on the Abolition of All Types of Discrimination Against Women' (CEDAW) in 1993 to take all necessary steps to eradicate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relationships. The petition further urges the High Court to order the Central Government, in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21 and International Conventions, to take reasonable measures to eliminate discrepancies in the minimum age of marriage and make it 'gender neutral, religion neutral and uniform for all citizens' and to announce that the minimum age of marriage for all citizens is 21 years. The petition urges the Court either to decide on the marriage age issue itself in order to ensure "gender equity, gender equality and women's dignity" and to declare 21 years to be the minimum marriage age for all citizens, or to order the Centre to remove the marriage age anomaly and to make it "gender neutral, religious neutral and uniform for all citizens in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21 and the international conventions.