Millennium Post

'Personal laws can’t legalise under-age marriage'

Personal laws can’t legalise under-age marriage
The Delhi high court has said the consummation of marriage with a girl below the age of 15 amounts to raping her, despite her consent and the man is not protected by the personal law of his religion.

‘Consummation with the wife below the age of 15 years is an offence under Section 375. No exception can be made to the said legal mandate and the same has to be strictly and diligently enforced,’ said a three judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri.

It said that the husband of a minor girl is entitled to his wife’s custody but cannot consummate his marriage with her till she attains the age of 20, as law gives her the liberty to approach the court to get her marriage declared void.

The high court bench gave this ruling in response to a division bench reference as to whether a minor can be said to have reached the age of discretion and thereby walk away from the lawful guardianship of her parents.

‘We are of the opinion that simply because the marriage is not void, it should automatically follow that the husband is entitled to the custody of the minor girl,’ said the bench. ‘But, allowing the husband to consummate a marriage may not be appropriate more so when the purpose and rationale behind the PCM (Prevention of Child Marriage) Act is that there should be a marriage of a child at a tender age as he or she is not psychologically or medically fit to get married.’
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