A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking transfer of pleas pertaining to a "uniform minimum age of marriage" for both men and women from the Delhi and Rajasthan High Courts to the top court, so as to evade conflicting views and multiplicity of litigations.
The plea, filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, said: "The fundamental basis of the legal system is that the dispute should be finally settled... when the same/similar facts are placed in different petitions before different courts for the judicial test, there is a likelihood of divergence of views..."
In August 2019, the Delhi High Court had sought response from Centre and the Law Commission on Upadhyay's plea seeking uniform marriage age for men and women. A similar PIL was filed by Abdul Mannan in February this year before the Rajasthan High Court, where the court sought response from the Centre and others.
Contending that while men are permitted to get married at the age of 21, women are married when they are just 18, Upadhyay's plea said: "A younger spouse is therefore expected to respect and be servile to her elder partner, which aggravates the pre-existing gender-based hierarchy in the marital relationship."
It emphasised that this distinction is based on patriarchal stereotypes, has no scientific backing, perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women, and goes completely against the global trends.
Seeking a minimum marriage age of 21 years age for all citizens, the petitioner, urging the top court to pass the necessary direction, said: "Alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of the fundamental rights, declare that the discriminatory minimum age of marriage offends Articles 14, 15, 21 and international conventions. Hence, minimum age of marriage shall be 21 years for all citizens."
Stressing that more than 125 countries have a uniform age of marriage for men and women, the plea cited that discriminatory bar is due to the Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, the Special Marriage Act, and the Hindu Marriage Act and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
"The differential bar discriminates against women, thus contravenes the fundamental principles of gender equality, gender justice and dignity of women and offend Articles 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution and international conventions," it added.
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