- Apprentice Lawyer
The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice in a petition seeking that child marriages performed in the national capital be declared void ab initio or invalid from the beginning (Aisha v. GNCTD).
A response from the Aam Aadmi Party government was sought by a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh in the petition filed by one Aisha Kumari (petitioner). A response was also sought from the Delhi Commission for Women.
The petitioner has prayed that Section 3(1) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which makes child marriages voidable, be declared ultra vires Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
In 2010, the 16-year-old petitioner was married to a man, also a minor, in a ceremony held at her residence. She was compelled to approach the High Court after her husband and his family visited her parents' home in November 2020, to take her with them.
Stating that she must be given the right to choose her life partner, the petitioner has prayed that her marriage, and all other child marriages, be declared void ab initio.
It is argued that consent for marriage given under the age of 18 years cannot be held to be valid consent in any circumstances and the protection of being “voidable” cannot be given to child marriages under any circumstances.
The petitioner has argued that child marriage violates the fundamental right of a minor girl child to have a life with dignity.
Highlighting the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 2016, which makes child marriages in the State of Karnataka void ab initio or invalid in law, the petitioner has submitted,
“The Respondent No 1 NCT of Delhi has failed to act in the manner the State of Karnataka did to declare all marriages void ab initio.. Under the doctrine of parens patriae, the Respondent No 1 State is duty bound to protect the interest and look after the wellbeing of children particularly minor girls who are most vulnerable.”
The petitioner further adds that on account of lack of financial support and the burden put on a minor child to get the marriage declared void, the evil of child marriage is still in existence.
"Child marriage manifests itself as a grave social evil which not only infringes upon the rights of the child cherished by various UN instruments but also violates the Constitutional commitment contained in the Directive Principles of Constitution of India”, the petition reads.
The petition is filed through Advocate Mohit D Ram. Advocate Tanvir Ahmed Mir appeared for the petitioner.
The matter will be heard next on February 12.