Plea on uniform marriage age accepted
The Supreme Court on 2 February 2021 agreed to examine whether it should adjudicate the issue of declaring a uniform minimum marriage age for men and women, expanding the growing arc of its interest in the politically sensitive issue of personal laws. A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice on a transfer petition filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay who submitted that cases pertaining to uniform marriage age were pending in Delhi and Rajasthan HCs and it would be better if the issue was adjudicated by the SC.
The SC has already seized Upadhyay’s petitions seeking uniform laws for divorce, alimony and maintenance as well as laws for uniform adoption and guardianship.
The uniformity in marriage age will be the third component of the Uniform Civil Code.
The petitioner prayed that the minimum marriage age for men and women be fixed at 21.
The court, which had looked reluctant to take up the petition, seems to have overcome its hesitation about taking up a subject which many considered a taboo because of the resistance of minority communities to any interference with their personal laws.
Today, the minimum age for women is 18 years as against 21 years for men and this amounts to a blatant discrimination against women, the petition argues.
There is no scientific backing for different ages for marriage except for the distinction based on patriarchal stereotypes perpetrating inequality against women that goes completely against the global trends.
The Delhi high court had in August 2019 issued notice to the Centre and the Law Commission on Upadhyay’s plea seeking uniform marriage age for men and women.
On 5 February last year, the Rajasthan high court sought response from the Centre and others on a similar PIL led by one Abdul Mannan.