The Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that a girl, who was married off before legal age, must declare it ‘void’ after turning 18-years-old to show that it is invalid. The division bench of the court has said that if a woman does not call her marriage void after turning 18, she can only seek separation by going through a decree of divorce.
The bench comprising Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Arun Monga issued the order while hearing a case filed by a couple, seeking dissolution of their marriage.
The couple had filed the petition before the Ludhiana family court on June 22, 2020. The family court had refused to grant a divorce to the couple – who tied the knot with consent – as the woman was a minor at the time of marriage. While rejecting the divorce plea, the HC cited section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which says that a woman should be 18 or above for her union to be considered legally valid.
The family court had said that the couple’s marriage was not valid as the woman was underage at the time of the ceremony. The HC said that in this case, the woman was 17-years, 6 months and 8 days old when she got married. It added that for all intents and purposes, no petition was filed for declaration of her marriage was termed void by the woman.
The petition for nullity under section 13(2)(iv) can be filed only if the girl gets married at the age of 15. If this is the case, the girl can file a divorce petition before turning 18.