Transfer Petition in Apex Court Lists Power Imbalance As Reason To Demand Uniform Marriageable Age

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A transfer petition has been filed in the Supreme Court demanding a uniform marriageable age of 21 years for both men and women. The petition claims that the unequal age of marriage which is 18 for women and 21 for men is the reason behind the aggravating gender inequality within a marital relationship. 

Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the advocate who filed the petition demands that his petition on the same question which is pending with the Delhi High Court be transferred to the Supreme Court along with a similar petition filed by Abdul Mannan in the Rajasthan High Court. He used the power of Article 139 A that permits petitions asking the same questions, pending before two or more high courts to be transferred to the Supreme Court.

Also Read: 7 Things Women Should Know About Special Marriages Act, 1954

The transfer petition claimed that “While men are permitted to get married at the age of 21, women are married when they are just 18. The 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,” as reported by HT.

The petition also claims that the marriageable age discrimination is a violation of fundamental rights of equality (Article 14), protection against discrimination (Article 15), and dignity of life (Article 21). The proponents of the petition argue that equal marriageable age will lead to equal opportunities for women as men to pursue their education, employment opportunities without being hindered by the family’s compulsion to get married.

Also Read: Delhi HC Seeks Centre’s Response on Same Sex Marriage Petition

However, recently the women’s wing of the Muslim League sent a petition to PM Narendra Modi opposing the plea. The letter, written by PK Noorbeena Rasheed, secretary of the Indian Union Women League (IUWL) which said that the move may lead to “live-in relationships” and “illegitimate relations”. According to them, such a move will lead to promiscuity in society, they urged the PM to not hurry while taking this decision. Read more here.

The central government is looking at the possibility to increase the marriageable age of women in India. Since 1978, the minimum legal age for marriage has been 18 for women and 21 for men. A 10-member task force has been set up under the leadership of Jaya Jaitly to look into the matter. Finance Minister mentioned this step for the first time while presenting the budget this year. It was also addressed by PM Narendra Modi in his speech on 15 August.

Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV