A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF (REVISED) AGE FOR WOMEN TO MARRIAGE IN INDIA
Riddhi Sharma & Tanya Sharma
(FINAL YEAR STUDENTS – B.B.A.LLB )
As the age for marriage has been proposed to get revised , it is in itself a very potent family issue which is encountered by every household and especially in India when we talk about families and their related issues the discussions gets multiplies , so for that reasons we brought our research on these aspects and had tried to cover each and possible way out , historical references , comparisons among laws , proposal procedure , effects and etc. which all we should have included and had included. The closer relations of Laws in an independent nation with its citizens cannot be ruled out , we had also discussed that what people originally perceive through these radical changes which provides a reform to the society, switches and shifts the society towards societal dynamics and demand a wholesome growth of society at all levels.
Our society revolves around the opportunities that we gather for our survival and to raise the standards of survival it is equally relevant to uplift the mindset and thought process of the generation only then we can take a step forward to achieve the idea of welfare state envisaged in our constitution . However raising an age can be a very small step for those who think that it is of no use but for those who understands the quest to unite efforts and schemes for a country like India which has bind its people with distinct creeds, castes, religions, languages etc into a string trust us, can only feel its affability , no matters if it is only a little step for the well- being of people.
Marriage is a socially or legally sanctioned union between a man and a woman, which can be or cannot be regulated by laws, customs , beliefs , values , attitudes for mutual companionship of two people of different thoughts and behavior. Though , if we talk about India , marriage nowadays has not gathered that serious significance than it does back in the 20th century but also not it had loosen its grip in shaping modern day ideal society as it is recited to be sacred from times immemorial.
The thoughts related to marriage in India to people has been switched drastically in its broad outlook , the new thinking regime is not supportive of any kind of forced unions , inflicted marriages for the sake of family intrusion or things of the like nature. On the contrary it has now become the mere matter of mutual liking and the trust that one see in the other and a matter of fair judgement for a long – lived partnership for a physical and mental companionship to raise children and to move along as an inseparable union. For a view to judge it is preliminary that everyone should focus on their fundamental and higher competency to judge which is acquired by incessant efforts by one to reach at that platform through skill and guidance that promotes progress and the only such way is to reach that is education. And to acquire that we also require ample time by making and revising laws that favours society for its amelioration , one such step which is a recommendation to do that which caters our motive to frame a research is our topic which is inclined to generate and lay out to restore the zeal and buoyancy for the growth of females and bringing them at par with the males by increasing the legal wedding age for females to get increased to 21yrs which was earlier 18 yrs.
MINIMUM AGE OF MARRIAGE IN INDIA
The current legal age to marriage in India is 18 years and 21 years for girls and boys respectively as per Hindu Marriage Act , 1955 (as enshrined in section 5 of the act ) which is the supreme law to regulate and guard family matters pertaining to marriages & divorces as per Hindu vedic rites and ceremonies , however it is pertinent to note that the law does not clearly specify or impose (it remains for the choice of the parties )the ceremonies as to how this alliance needs to be implemented due to the involvement of various other communities into the act it can be any ceremony or ceremonies through which a man and a woman come across a sacred union and get abide by it.to provide it a legal acceptability . The Hindu marriage act prohibits polygamy and polyandry at the same time .The major religions which are covered under this act and are accorded in and as within the extended meaning of Hindus are Buddhists, Sikhs,& Jains .however the act does not apply to persons who are Muslims, Christians , Parsis or jews by religion .They are governed with their personal laws on the similar subject as our country being a secular country so everyone has a right to flourish on each and every matter by their own choice except on matters that affect national integrity or sovereignty of the country. As a matter of choice they are also never restricted to get an inclusion in the act as HMA, 1955 supports approximately 80% of the Indian population. In rest of the left cases the matters are being covered by their personal laws wherein no interference is to be dealt with .
WHY A MINIMUM AGE ?
Every law that prescribes the minimum age of marriage has a basic idea to garner the particulars that why & how a progressive society thinks and meant to be , as statistics suggest that a growth of a country ‘s holistic anatomy depends upon its society , that how does people link their personal growth to their societal, economic, political , geopolitical aspects and what and how does their thoughts shape in a framework which is approving to their actions in their self growth and definitely as a role play as a responsible citizen of the state.
It further helps to avert social evils such as child marriages and child abuse of minor population . In Islam , the marriage of a minor (particularly a female) who has attained puberty is considered as valid , otherwise the age is 15 years for both boys and girls but at the same time it has nothing to do with the consent and strict application of the age limit , they consider the very fact that as soon as a girl is capable of fertility she can marry or can get married which itself says and tells the raffish tale of forceful marriages throughout the community.
For special marriage act , 1954 and prohibition of child marriage act , 2006 also the age is 18 years and 21 years for girls and boys. If the new age gets implemented these laws also have to get amended. Even the Indian Christians Marriage act, 1872 and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce act, 1936 also suggests the same minimum age limits as to be 18 and 21 respectively.
Despite various attempts, social reforms in the subject seem to have never happened. While not targeting personal laws as such, the country has to be more serious in implementing the uniform civil code with the joint efforts of the parliament and the citizens of India. The laws need to be in tune with modern times and the courts ought to interpret them with a progressive mindset. What was considered normal in the previous times is probably considered a crime today with changing times? Thus, the laws, as well as the lawmakers and the bodies expected to uphold them, must keep up, which is the need of the hour.
Under Shariat, puberty or 15 years is the minimum age of marriage. The quran, however, is not in favour of child marriages. … In each of these laws, the bill substitutes the age of marriage of 18 for women with 21 years. It doesn’t touch the muslim personal law as it relies upon shariat. However there is a lot of ambiguity in Muslim law itself because there is no such minimum age , because they rely on the fact of puberty , and they does not follow the holy quran for the solemnization of marriages as it does not support child marriages. Sharia is not a law , it is a tradition followed for the management of religious affairs. Muslim personal law should get revised.
In the Yusuf Ibrahim Mohammad Lokhat versus state of Gujarat case of 2014, the girl was 17 and had eloped and married a 21 year old man. Her parents petitioned against the marriage as she was a minor. The court ruled against the parents’ petition and upheld the marriage, since it was in keeping with the muslim personal law. “According to the personal law of Muslims, the girl no sooner she attains the puberty or completes the 15 years, whichever is earlier, is competent to get married without the consent of her parents.” Apparently, the parents had also later accepted the marriage.
So, therefore we can conclude that the prohibition of child marriage act, 2006 has effect over the personal laws but the courts while interpreting the judicial interpretations has to look upon sparingly and judges need to match to the scheme of provisions as laid down in their personal laws , they cannot move beyond that because if personal laws have been given liberty to operate and this liberty comes straight forward from the constitution , it can never be revoked unless there arises any replacement or any discrepancies on whose arrival it is so necessary for the courts to re -examine and has to place the personal laws on lower footing.
New proposal of marriage age by Union Cabinet :
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (Amendment) Bill,2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha . the bill seeks to amend the marriagable age of women to be raised from 18 to 21 years.
The Amendment bill is based on the recommendation of Task Force set up by the Central Government the Task Force was set up to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering MMR, improvement of nutritional levels and related issue . Task Force was termed as Jaya Jaitly Task Force.
Recommendations of the committee :
- The Marriageable age to be increased to 21 years from 18 years for Women.
- The government should provide ample opportunities for the access of education to women .
- The government should provide business and skill training to women.
- The government should focus to make sex education a part of curriculum in schools.
Benefits and demerits of increasing marriage age :
PROMOTING GENDER NEUTRALITY :
Gender Neutrality is one of the most essential element for a holistic development of society as until and unless the biasness exists for one gender the other gender lacks the scope of development . As it is mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act , 1955 and Special Marriage Act,1954 that the age of marriage for women shall be 18 years and the Age of Men for marriage shall be 21 years. The present amendment introduced will take a good step towards making the marriageable age to be 21 years for both men and women
MORE FEMALE EDUCATION RATE
The increase in marriage age will further also help the women to complete their graduation as till the age of 18 most of the women finish their higher secondary school education i.e Class XII but the the current amendment can act as a aid for women to further utilize the years and go for further graduation as graduation helps in opening up better job prospects in general.
MORE INVOLVEMENT IN WORK FORCE OF FEMALES
Increase in education levels will also give rise to more involvement of female workforce and more females will become financially independent and will also give boost to the economy.
MMR refers to the Medical Mortality Rate which means the registered deaths which are caused due to the child births or pregnancy or any other complication caused by it. Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) . The further process of increasing the age will help in keeping a check on the Maternal Mortality Rate as when the age will be increased and the body of the woman will be best prepared to bear the child and the instances of Maternal Mortality rate will further reduce.
LESS CHILD ABUSE
The increase in marriageable age can be helpful to understand the situation and know their rights because the process of learning and becoming aware of their own rights can make them less prone to abuse as the healthy age for pregnancy is usually considered from the age of 21 years to 35 years.
BETTER HEALTH FOR WOMEN
Early marriages also further lead to early pregnancies that can cause certain complications which can be further avoided and will help in creating a healthy environment for mother physically and also in regards with her mental wellbeing
INCREASE IN ILLEGAL MARRIAGES
India is the hub of different cultures and traditions and some of them have the norm of getting the women married earlier at less age such an amendment might prove to be unsuccessful in relation to certain scheduled castes and schedules tribes. Almost 70% women get married in their early age and such law will have no such effect in relation to this.
INCREASE IN FEMALE INFANTICIDE
This is also a very critical issue which legislation cannot alone solve as the treatment of this backward mindset although, India has improved but in rural areas ,this mindset still prevails and needs to be changed that females are not burden and they deserve everything as same as males.
Author: Riddhi Sharma & Tanya Sharma,
CHANDERPRABHU JAIN COLLEGE OF HIGHER STUDIES AND SCHOOL OF LAW, AFFILIATED TO GGSIPU , NEW DELHI, Year 5th of BBALLB