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SC stays Delhi HC order on teen marriages
March 27, 2006 15:18 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Delhi high court decision expressing inability to take action against teenage marriages.
The interim order came on a petition filed by the National Commission for Women challenging the October 2005 decision of the high court and a similar order that the Andhra Pradesh high court passed in February.
The court issued notices to the Centre, the Delhi government, and Nirmal Chhaya, a remand home for girls.
The court also sought the assistance of the Law Commission of India in the matter.
The Delhi high court had expressed its inability to act against teenage husbands in runaway marriages fighting legal provisions under the Child Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.
The high court had said that it was for Parliament to take appropriate measures to remove the inadequacies in the law.
It had ruled that the marriage of a minor girl above 15 years of age is not illegal if it is of her free will and that she cannot be sent to an asylum.
'The marriage was neither void nor illegal on account of the spouse being less than 18 years of age and being over 15 years of age,' the court had said, in connection with three separate cases where minor girls above 15 years had eloped and married men of their choice and the girls' parents had lodged cases of kidnapping against their sons-in-law.
The court had quashed the FIRs and ordered the release of the husbands, saying the essential ingredient of the offence of kidnapping - taking away or enticing away - of the minor was missing in these cases.
The court had also ordered the girls to be released from asylums and allowed them, including a pregnant girl, to accompany their respective husbands.
'The girls having reached the age of discretion had of their own volition accompanied the men of their choice,' the court had said, noting that 'evidence suggested that the initiative came from them and they got married of their own accord and were desirous of living with their respective husbands'.
Quoting from the 1965 Supreme Court verdict in S Varadrajan vs the State of Madras, it had said when a girl, who though a minor had attained the age of discretion and was on the verge of attaining the age of majority, accompanied a man with the desire of being his wife, the man cannot be held guilty of kidnapping as 'the law does not cast upon him the duty of taking her back to her father's house or even of telling her not to accompany him'.