August 12, 2010

Times of India

Marriages between minors is valid : Delhi HC

NEW DELHI: Marriage between minors is valid and it can be annulled only on the plea by one of the partners, the Delhi High Court ruled on Wednesday.

"A marriage in contravention of clause (iii) of section 5 (which fixes minimum age of twenty-one years for bridegroom and eighteen years for bride) does not fall in the category of void marriages nor does it fall in the category of voidable marriages. Consequently, by the process of elimination, it would be a valid marriage," the court said.

A bench of Justices B D Ahmed and V K Jain said that even under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act the marriage involving minors has not been declared as invalid and the Act just says that the marriage can be annuled on this ground if plea is made by the minor partner.

"It is clear that where, earlier, a child marriage may not have been voidable under personal law, as in the case of the Hindu Marriage Act, by virtue of the section 3 of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, it has explicitly been made voidable at the option of the child spouse. But nobody other than a party to the marriage can petition for annulment of the marriage," the court said.

It said the legislature while drafting the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act had consciously left out marriages in contravention of the age stipulation from the category of void or invalid marriages.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by a minor boy who tied knot with a minor girl against the wishes of their family members after fleeing from home.

18-year Jitendra Kumar Sharma approached the court after a criminal case was registered against him on the complaint of family members of 16-year-old minor girl Poonam Sharma who alleged the boy had abducted her.


Malad schoolkids rally to stop child abuse

Raising their voices against child sexual abuse, students, teachers and parents from the Billabong high international school, Malad, and members of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Tiss) on Wednesday marched from the NCPA to the Mantralaya, urging the government to pass stricter laws against the menace.

Sanjay Singh from Tiss, who is the national convener of the ‘Chuppi Todo’ campaign, said; “We are using this campaign as an advocacy tool with the central government to pass the ‘Prevention of Offences Against the Child Bill’. For that, we encourage students to sign a document that will be submitted to central law minister Veerappa Moily.”

As part of this campaign, a memorandum and a 24-minute educational film ‘Chuppi Todo’were submitted to state home minister RR Patil. They demanded a separate act for children in Maharashtra, equivalent to the Goa act for children. The minister said he supported the students on this cause.

The campaign started at the Billabong school, with the screening of the film for students and parents. The film screening was followed by a discussion with child psychologists. A spot survey was conducted with the students to check their awareness levels about child sexual abuse. The answers given by these students before and after the screening were compared, to see the impact of film on the awareness level of children. This was followed by the signature campaign.
Billabong principal Kusum Kanwar said, “I would like to request all parents to be more forthcoming about such issues.”

Added Singh, “According to the ministry of women and child development and Childline, in India a child experiences the trauma of sexual abuse every second, and every 155th minute, a child below 16 years of age is raped.”

To spread awareness among the students on how to identify and fight child sexual abuse, NGO Plan India has initiated programmes to educate the children and parents on safe and unsafe touches, in the context of child sexual abuse.

The ‘Chuupi Todo’ campaign will extend till Delhi via Baroda, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, and Jaipur. Billabong’s Baroda branch plans to support the campaign by screening the film, along with a panel discussion for parents and students on August 12.

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