SC Issues Notice on Plea Seeking Transfer of Petitions for Uniform Marriage Age for Men and Women

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a notice in a petition seeking transfer of a batch of petitions which were pending before the Delhi and Rajasthan High Court, which sought uniform age of marriage for both women and men.

A bench headed by CJI has issued a notice in the petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The petition sought transfer of the petitions from the High Courts to the Supreme Court.

The plea states that the instant petition was filed to prevent litigation proceedings’ multiplicity and conflicting views on the interpretation of Articles 15, 14 & 21 and judgments involving equality and gender justice.

In the petition, it is averred that while men are allowed to marry at 21, women can marry at 18. This difference is based on patriarchal stereotypes, perpetrated de facto and de jure inequality against females and has no scientific backing.

The petitioner has also elaborated that India’s International Human Rights obligations under the provisions of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which it ratified in 1993, inform the content of Articles 15, 14 and 21 of the Constitution which obliges the state parties to take steps to modify cultural and social patterns of men and women and eliminate practices that differentiate between the sexes.

In this regard, the petitioner submitted that any provisions that enforce such discriminatory stereotypes were violative of Articles 21, 15 and 14. It was further stated that such a differential limit for marriage age aggravates social inequality and breaches Article 15,14 and 21. The petitioner also stated that married women are expected to perform a subordinate role in the household, which leads to a power imbalance in the marital relationship. And this power imbalance is aggravated by the age difference.

It was further contended that such discriminatory provisions should be changed and the minimum age for getting married should be 21 for both men and women.

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Lastly, the petitioner prayed that similar petitions are pending before the two High Courts and the respondents will face immense difficulty in arguing before two different courts and that there is a possibility that the Courts might deliver conflicting judgement, so the petitions should be transferred to the Supreme Court. Another prayer was that the Court should direct the Central Government to make the age religion-neutral and uniforms for everyone in the spirit of Article 15, 14 and 21.

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