The Delhi High Court sought for approval from the AAP government for declaring all child marriages as void ab initio (to be treated as invalid from the outset)on Monday. This comes after a woman filed a petition for invalidating all child marriages conducted in Delhi. The woman was herself married off to a man when she was just 16. However, she never shared her life with her husband and ended pursuing her graduation. She wishes to invalidate her own marriage as well as all other child marriages.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh filed a notice to the Delhi’s AAP government for its take on the matter. Notices were also issued to the woman’s father, brother and husband to get their responses on the issue. The responses will have to be issued before February 12, the date for the next hearing.
Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir who represented the woman told the bench that she was currently residing in a secret location as she didn’t want her family to accept the marriage she was forced into in April 2010. Furthermore, the petitioner also claimed that her husband was her cousin from her maternal side.
The petitioner also said that she had to agree to the marriage as she was in class 10 and was awaiting her board exam results at that time. She also revealed that she was beaten up by her brother for refusing to go to her husband when he came to take her away in November last year. All this while, she was residing with her parents until 19 November 2020.
She then decided to flee from her home on 20 November 2020. She has been hiding from her family ever since that incident. The woman has also requested for protection from her family in the petition.
The occurrence of child marriages reached a new high during the lockdown. Last month, a 12-year-old girl from Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh managed to evade her marriage with the help of her school teacher. According to data Childline 1098, a government helpline, “18,324 SOS calls about child marriage were made between April & October 2020, compared to 15,238 in the same period last year.”