Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that a girl who has been married off before reaching legal age fixed for marriage should declare it void after turning 18 to prove that it is invalid. As a result, the division bench of the court ruled that if a woman does not declare her marriage void after she turns 18, she can only seek separation through a divorce decree.
The bench consisting of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Arun Monga issued the order during the hearing of a case filed by a couple seeking dissolution of their marriage.
What is the case?
The couple filed the petition with the Ludhiana family court on June 22, 2020. The family court had refused to grant a divorce to the couple – who tied the knot with consent of elders – as the woman was a minor at the time of marriage. The HC rejected the divorce petition, citing section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which states that a woman should be 18 or over to be considered legally married.
According to The Times of India, the family court ruled that the couple’s marriage was invalid since the woman was underage at the time of the ceremony. HC said that the woman was 17-years-old, 6 months and 8 days old when she got married. It added that there was no petition filed by the woman for a declaration that her marriage was void.
The petition under Section 13(2)(iv) can only be filed by a girl who has married at the age of 15. If this is the case, the girl can file for divorce before she turns 18.