AIDWA

Memorandum to Law Minister on HC Judgement in Marriage Of A Minor

Memorandum to Law Minister on HC Judgement in Marriage Of A Minor Girl
   
16 October, 2005  
   
THE union law minister H R Bharadwaj gave a categorical assurance to a delegation of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), which met him on October 8, that the union law ministry would immediately file an appeal against the recent retrograde High Court judgment which lays down a general principle that the marriage of a minor girl is justified on grounds that it was of her own volition.
 
The delegation of the AIDWA comprising of the president Subhashini Ali, vice president and Rajya Sabha MP, Brinda Karat, general secretary Sudha Sundararaman, advocate Kirti Singh, U Vasuki and Kiran Moghe met the law minister and handed over a memorandum to him, demanding intervention in the recent judgment of the Delhi High Court.
 
Following is the text of memorandum:
 
On behalf of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, we wish to express our deep concern about the recent judgment of the Delhi High Court, which lays down a general principle that the marriage of a minor girl is justified on grounds that it was of her own volition.
 
Child marriage continues to be one of the major reasons for continuing high rates of maternal and child mortality in India, and adversely affects women’s educational and social status. By advancing the argument that a girl above 15 years can be said to have reached the “age of discretion” and any willful marriage by her would be considered “valid, enforceable and recognisable in courts of law”, the court seeks to reopen an issue around which a consensus was built after a long debate and struggle on the question of the age of consent.
 
As it stands, the present law sets the age of marriage of a woman at 18 years. Despite this, child marriage continues to be a widespread phenomenon in several parts of India. Such a judgment sends a wrong signal by condoning a violation of the law and could very well be used to legitimise child marriage. The reality is that many women are being forced into marriage at an early age against their will, often at the expense of their education and health.
 
We would like to state that opposition to lowering marriage age should not be confused with the rights of teenagers. We also strongly condemn “honour killings” and the various ways in which young women are prevented from and punished for entering into self-choice marriage.
 
The AIDWA demands that the government intervene strongly to ensure that there is no dilution of the minimum age of marriage. This could include an appeal to the Supreme Court. We would also request you to take steps to remove the present infirmities in the Child Marriage Restraint Act.

Comments