The Court will decide whether to order uniformity in marriage ages between men and women.
On 2nd February 2021, the Supreme Court issued notice on a petition seeking the transfer of pending petitions before the Rajasthan and Delhi High Courts. The petition was filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who is an advocate and a politician. He was represented by Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra.
The petition claims to have been filed in order to avoid the possibility of conflicting views with multiple litigations. The plea for transfer was originally filed on 26th October, 2020. The petitioner argues that the distinction in stipulated marriage ages for men and women is based on patriarchal stereotypes. Men are allowed to get married at the age of 21 while women are permitted at age 18.
The petition specifically highlights, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 – Section 60(1); Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 - Section 3(1)(c); Special Marriage Act, 1954 – Section 4(c); Hindu marriage Act, 1955 – Section 5(iii) and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 – Section 2(a).
This distinction, according to the petitioner, “…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”. The petitioner further argues that these provisions are manifestly arbitrary because of the discriminatory stereotypes it reinforces. Therefore, they violate the right to equality, right to prohibition of discrimination and the right to dignity of life, under Articles 14, 15 and 21 respectively..
The CJI Bobde led bench issued notice in this case. On 5th April, 2020, the Union was granted four-weeks’ time by the Registrar to file its counter affidavit. On 29th June 2021, the Court heard a plea challenging provisions that prescribe different ages for marriage eligibility and tagged it with the transfer petition.
1. Whether personal laws governing differences in marriage age are violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950?
2. Whether personal laws governing differences in marriage age is discriminatory on the basis of gender?