Minor Girl Cannot Be Allowed To Live With Her Husband Despite Being Married: Allahabad High Court

Case  Title:  Pradeep Tomar  and  Another  V/S  State  of  Uttar  Pradesh  and Another [Matters under Article 227 No. 4804 of 2020]

 

Recently Allahabad High Court disallowed a minor girl to live along with a man whom she claimed to be her husband. The verdict was delivered by the bench on 27 January on a plea by the father of a minor girl under Article 227 of Indian Constitution challenging the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Hapur on 24 November 2020 that the Magistrate had erred while granting permission to the minor girl to stay with her husband.

 

The  counsel  of  petitioner  argued  that  the  girl  was  16 years  of  age  as  per  the  High School Certificate which clearly shows that the girl was minor when she was enticed by the Hapur resident Pintoo who married her, even so, she cannot be permitted to live with her husband as she was yet to attain the age of majority.

 

The counsel further contended that marriage with a minor would be void under Section 12 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 [where a minor child is taken or enticed out of  the  keeping  of  the  lawful  guardian  –  marriage  of  a  minor  to  be  void].  Therefore,  she cannot be permitted to live in a matrimonial relationship as it is not appropriate for her, as doing so it would be permitting “statutory rape” and consider it an offence under Section 5/6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

 

On considering the above arguments the Court observed that Section 94(2) of the Juvenile Justice  (Care  and  Protection  of  Children)  Act,  2015  states  that  where  the  date  of  birth certificate  from the school or the matriculation or any other equivalent  certificate  from the concerned examination board is available, the other evidence about the age of a victim cannot be taken into consideration.

 

Section 94: Presumption and determination of age

 

Description:  (1)  Where,  it  is  obvious  to  the  Committee  or  the  Board,  based  on  the appearance  of  the  person  brought  before  it  under  any  of  the  provisions  of  this  Act (other  than  for  the  purpose  of  giving  evidence)  that  the  said  person  is  a  child,  the Committee or the Board shall record such observation stating the age of the child as nearly as may be and proceed with the inquiry under section 14 or section 36, as the case  may  be,  without  waiting  for  further  confirmation  of  the  age.  (2)  In  case,  the Committee  or  the  Board  has  reasonable  grounds  for  doubt  regarding  whether  the person brought before it is a child or not, the Committee or the Board, as the case may be, shall undertake the process of age determination, by seeking evidence by obtaining

— (i) the date of birth certificate from the school, or the matriculation or equivalent certificate  from  the  concerned  examination  Board,  if  available;  and  in  the  absence thereof; (ii) the birth certificate given by a corporation or a municipal authority or a panchayat; (iii) and only in the absence of (i) and (ii) above, age shall be determined by an ossification test or any other latest medical age determination test conducted on the  orders  of  the  Committee  or  the  Board:  Provided  such  age  determination  test conducted on the order of the Committee or the Board shall be completed within fifteen days from the date of such order. (3) The age recorded by the Committee or the Board to  be  the  age  of  person  so  brought  before  it  shall,  for  the  purpose  of  this  Act,  be deemed to be the true age of that person.

 

Justice  J.J.  Munir  also  clarified  that  the  minor  girl  could  not  prove  through  medical examination  that  she  is  major,  school  certificate  would  be  considered  as  conclusive  proof regarding the age of the girl.

 

The Court said, the minor girl is enticed out of the lawful custody of her legal guardian by a man whom she claimed to be her husband cannot be allowed to live with him irrespective of the fact that they are married.

 

However, on the point whether the marriage would be void, the Court stated that the marriage would not be void under Section 12 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006,  but would  be  voidable  under  Section  3  (Child  marriages  to  be  voidable  at  the  option  of contracting party being a child) of the said Act.

 

The  Court  further  said  that  as  the  minor  girl  confessed  that  she  wanted  to  live  with  her husband without any force or coercion, it is upon the minor girl after she attains the age of majority to go wherever she likes and stay with whomsoever she wanted.

 

At  the  outset  of  this,  the  Court  affirmed  the  contention  of  the  counsel  of  petitioner  and proceeded further to set aside the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Hapur and held that the minor girl cannot be allowed to live with her husband.

 

Also,  the  Allahabad  High  Court  had  directed  the  Hapur  district  Judge  to  appoint  a  lady Judicial Officer to visit the girl once every month to check about her welfare.

 

Petitioner – Pradeep Tomar and Another

Respondent – State of U.P. and Another

 

Counsel for Petitioner – Dhirendra Kumar Agrahari, Sudhir Mehrortra

 

Counsel for Respondent – G.A. Rama Shankar Mishra

 

Concluding remark – The decision given by the Allahabad High Court is a welcoming one as the  court use critical  thinking  skills  to reach  the objective  that  it  is  not appropriate  for the minor girl to live with her husband irrespective of the fact that she is married.

 

Reference   –

  1. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/despite-marrying-willingly-a-minor-girl- cant-be-allowed-to-stay-with-husband-till-she-attains-majority-allahabad-high-court-169484

 

  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1422776/

 

Disclaimer: The views are personal.

Arina Asgar

3rd Year

Vivek College of Law, U.P.

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