The SC issued notice on a plea seeking transfer of cases praying for uniform marriage age for men and women, from High Courts to the Supreme Court in order to avoid multiplicity of litigations and conflicting views on interpretation of Articles 14, 15, 21 and judgments on gender justice and gender equality.
The transfer petition for Uniform marriage age was filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
Contentions in the Plea filed for Uniform Age of Marriage
The Plea filed for uniform age for marriage stated that there are specific religion based legislations which prescribe a certain age for marriage and that it is discriminatory of Article 14 and 21.
The provisions include Section 60(1) of the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872;Section 3(1)(c) of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936; Section 4(c) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954; Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Section 2(a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
The plea states that India signed the ‘Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’ (CEDAW) on July 30, 1980 and ratified it in 1993 to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.
The petition has prayed that the minimum and uniform marriage age for men and women should be fixed at 21.
The plea further urges the top court to direct the Central government to take appropriate steps to remove the anomalies in the minimum age of marriage and make it ‘gender neutral, religion neutral and uniform for all citizens’ in spirit of the Articles 14, 15, 21 and International Conventions and declare that minimum age and uniform marriage age shall be 21 years for all citizens.
The Plea further urged,
“Today, the minimum age for women is 18 as against 21 for men and this amounts to a blatant discrimination against women, the petition argues. It claims there no scientific backing for different ages for marriage except for the distinction based on patriarchal stereotypes perpetrating inequality against women that goes completely against the global trends.”