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Child marriages are to be voidable at the option of the contracting party being a child.: High court of Punjab and Haryana

The petitioners got married against the wishes of the respondents, and under article 21 of the constitution of India, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law”. A petition was filed by the petitioners as they were seeking protection of life and liberty from the hands of the respondents (No.5-11), however, if the petitioners provide incorrect information of the act, it would violate the child marriage act i.e. “An Act to restrain the solemnization of child marriage” This judgment and final order were given in the high court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh on the 22nd of July, 2021 by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Amol Rattan Singh in the case of Jugraj Singh and another v/s state of Punjab and others CRWP No.6733 of 2021, the proceedings of the court were held through video conferencing.

The following are the facts of the case, the petitioners got married against the will of the respondents, the counsel for the petitioners (Mr. Vishal Sharma) claimed before the court that the petitioners have married on their own will and have never been married before to anyone else and they are both major (above 18 and 21).

The court insisted that since article 21 of the Indian constitution comes under a fundamental right of every citizen irrespective of the validity of the marriage, the court decided to dismiss the petition by directing the respondents(No.2 -4) (Police) to protect the lives and the liberty of the petitioners from the harm or any kind of threat generated by the respondents.

However the court held that no firm age proof was given by the petitioners other than Aadhar cards which cannot be used to determine their age and is no proof for the same, the court warned the petitioners that after verification if they are found to be below marriageable age under the terms of prohibition of child marriage act 2006 this order will not bar any  proceedings under the provisions of that Act, all offenses will be held punishable under the provisions of the child marriage Act 2006  as given in terms of Section 15 which states that “Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable.-Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), an offense punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.”

The court continued that Section 3 of the child marriage act 2006, i.e., “Child marriages to be voidable at the option of the contracting party being a child. – Every child marriage, whether solemnized before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of the marriage.”  that if a minor gets married such a marriage may not be void but only voidable only when the same minor attains maturity, this will still not bar proceedings under that act for entering into marriage before the legal age for marriage according to the given act.

The court concluded that “Further, it is made clear that if any of the averments made in the petition is found to be incorrect, specifically with regard to either the petitioners being in any prohibited relationship to each other or as regards their previous marital status, this order shall not be construed to be a bar on proceedings initiated as per law.”

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