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Legal Age for Marriage in India: A Case Law

Facts of the Case:

A Hindu girl, aged 16 years, has entered into marriage with a Hindu boy of 21 years. The question arises concerning the validity of the marriage according to Hindu Law in India, taking into consideration the age of the bride.


Issues:

  • Is the marriage between the girl and boy valid as per Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?

  • What are the implications under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006?

  • What are the rights and remedies available to the parties involved?


Rule of Law:

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955:

  • Section 5(iii): Specifies the legal age of marriage as 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.

  • Section 18: Penalties for contravention of certain conditions.

Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006:

  • Section 3: Provides for the voidability of child marriage.

  • Section 9: Punishment for male adult marrying a child.

  • Section 11: Punishment for promoting or solemnizing a child marriage.


Application and Discussion:

Validity Under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955:

The Hindu Marriage Act lays down the conditions for a Hindu marriage to be considered valid. As per Section 5(iii), the marriage between a girl under 18 and a boy under 21 is in contravention of the Act, making the marriage voidable at the option of the parties.


Implications Under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006:

  • Child Marriage: Since the girl is 16, the marriage falls under the definition of "child marriage" as per this Act.

  • Voidable Marriage: According to Section 3, the marriage is voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of marriage.

  • Punishment: The boy, being an adult, might be liable for punishment under Section 9, and any person promoting or solemnizing such a marriage may be penalized under Section 11.

Rights and Remedies:

  • The girl, being a minor, has the option to void the marriage until she reaches the age of 20.

  • The boy may face legal consequences, including imprisonment or fines, unless he proves that he was unaware of the girl's age at the time of marriage.


Conclusion: Legal Age for Marriage in India

The marriage between the 16-year-old Hindu girl and the 21-year-old boy is not valid as per the conditions laid down in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and is further governed by the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The marriage is voidable at the option of the girl, and legal penalties might apply to the boy or anyone involved in solemnizing or promoting this marriage.

  • Answer to Issue 1: The marriage is not valid as per the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, due to the age of the girl.

  • Answer to Issue 2: Implications under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, make the marriage voidable and may entail legal penalties.

  • Answer to Issue 3: The girl has the option to void the marriage, and legal remedies are available to her if she decides to exercise this right.

The situation highlights the need to ensure strict adherence to the laws governing marriage in India, not only for legal compliance but also to protect the rights and welfare of children involved.

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