Legal Age of Marriage in India
Legal Age of Marriage in India
The legal age of marriage in India is currently 18 years for women and 21 years for men. This is stipulated by the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which amended the previous legislation and raised the minimum age for marriage for both genders. However, the legal landscape regarding marriage in India is complex and nuanced, with several aspects to consider:
Current Minimum Age:
- Women: 18 years (as per Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006)
- Men: 21 years (as per Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006)
- Child Marriage: Marriages below the legal age are considered child marriages and are illegal.
- Consent: Even if a marriage is performed below the legal age, it is considered valid if both parties are above the age of puberty at the time of the marriage. However, the minor can petition for annulment of the marriage upon reaching the legal age.
- Religious Laws: Some personal laws governing specific communities may have different interpretations of the minimum age of marriage. However, these interpretations cannot override the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
- Proposed Increase for Women: There have been ongoing discussions and proposals to raise the minimum age of marriage for women to 21 years. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill, 2021 was passed by the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) in December 2021, but is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and come into effect.
Arguments for Raising the Minimum Age for Women:
- Education and Empowerment: A higher minimum age would allow women more time to complete their education and pursue careers, leading to greater empowerment and economic independence.
- Health and Wellbeing: Early marriage can lead to health complications for mothers and children, particularly increased maternal and infant mortality rates.
- Gender Equality: Raising the minimum age would address the existing gender disparity and promote equality between men and women.
Arguments against Raising the Minimum Age for Women:
- Socioeconomic Impact: In some rural communities, early marriage is a way to escape poverty and ensure financial security for girls. Raising the minimum age could have unintended consequences for such communities.
- Cultural Concerns: Some argue that raising the age would be an encroachment on traditional customs and practices.
- Potential for “Live-in” Relationships: Some worry that raising the minimum age could lead to an increase in unmarried couples living together, which is not socially accepted in some parts of India.
Overall, the legal age of marriage in India remains a subject of debate and discussion. While the current minimum age of 18 years for women and 21 years for men is a significant step towards protecting children from child marriage, there are ongoing efforts to raise the minimum age for women further. The decision to raise the age will require careful consideration of various social, economic, and cultural factors.
I hope this detailed explanation provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the legal age of marriage in India. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.
Adcocate J.S. Rohilla (Civil & Criminal Lawyer in Indore)
Contact: 88271 22304