According to Section 5 Clause (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the groom has completed the age of 21 years and the bride, the age of 18 years at the time of the marriage. But even if this condition is not met, the marriage cannot be declared void under section 11 of the Act. Since 1978, the minimum age for marriage, has been 18 years for females and 21 years for males.
The Supreme Court had recently approved to examine a petition to transfer to itself various cases pending in the High Courts of Delhi and Rajasthan to declare a “uniform minimum legal age” for marriage.
A Bench led by the former CJI, S.A. Bobde issued a notice to the Government on the petition by Adv. Ashwini K. Upadhyay, who contended that the transfer petition had been filed because of the purpose of “securing gender justice, gender equality, and dignity of women”. To avoid multiplicity of the various laws and litigations in the country regarding the same and contradictory views on the understanding of Articles 14, 15, 21 and decisions on gender justice and gender equality, the Court was pleased to transfer these PILs and decide them jointly, said the transfer plea which was filed under Article 139A of the Indian Constitution.
The petition also wanted a direction to the Centre to take suitable steps to remove the irregularities in the minimum age of marriage and attain a ‘gender-neutral, religion-neutral and uniform law for all citizens’ in the spirit of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part 3 of the Indian Constitution of equality (Article 14) and right to life (Article 21) and various international conventions.