Legal gallery: Plea for uniform marriage age of 21 for men & women

New Delhi: Delhi lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has moved a petition for transfer of all cases pending before various High Courts to the Supreme Court for fixing a uniform minimum marriage age of 21 for both men and women.

His petition has come at a time when the govt is already considering to raise the minimum age of girls for marriage from 18 to 21 years as indicated by PM Modi in his Independence Day address and again last Friday. Upaddhyay has also referred to various Law Commission reports stressing on the gender equality in support of his petition. He has referred at least two cases pending before the HCs that can be clubbed and heard together by the Apex Court, the first filed by himself in Delhi HC in August last year and another by Abdul Mannan of Makrana in September last year in which the Rajasthan HC issued orders on February 5.

His transfer petition, filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, says transfer of all such petitions to the SC will avoid multiplicity of litigations and conflicting views on interpretation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, referring to seek the gender equality. –Our Bureau

Today, the minimum age for women is 18 as against 21 for men and this amounts to a blatant discrimination against women, the petition argues. It claims there no scientific backing for different ages for marriage except for the distinction based on patriarchal stereotypes perpetrating inequality against women that goes completely against the global trends.

The petition urges the Court to either itself decide the issue of the marriage age to secure "gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women," and declare 21 years as the minimum age of marriage for all citizens or direct the Centre to remove the anomaly in the minimum age of marriage and make it "gender neutral, religion neutral and uniform for all citizens in the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 21 and the international conventions.

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