Jan 31, 2009

India - Clear confusion over marriageable age, court to government

New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) The government Friday had a tough time clarifying issues related to the definition of 'child' and 'marriageable age' in the Delhi High Court, which pulled it up for not amending old laws.

A full bench comprising of Justices Vikramjit Sen, Sanjiv Khanna and V.K. Shali slammed the central government for the confusion over the issue of marriageable age of girls and boys under various laws.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P.P. Malhotra, who appeared for the government, failed to answer a series of queries raised by the bench about various provisions, which are contradictory to one another.

The court asked Malhotra as to why the government brings in such legislations that contradict the provisions of other laws. It was referring to the provisions of the new law - Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), which contradicts certain provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA).

Citing provisions of the PCMA while dealing with a petition of an eight-month pregnant teenager's father, the bench asked the government counsel what should the court do in such situations. The girl's father alleged that his daughter was kidnapped by a boy who was allegedly below the marriageable age of 21 and sought the marriage to be declared null and void.

The court granted further time to the government and fixed Feb 6 as the next date of hearing in the case.

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