The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K. M. Joseph on Wednesday directed to implead the States in a PIL by NGO Independent Thought regarding the implementation of the Prevention of Child Marriage Act of 2006.
Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, drew the attention of the bench to the 2017 decision rendered on another PIL by the same NGO where the apex court had read down Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC with the effect that sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife being under 18 years of age, even if over 15, could amount to rape.
“We are aware”, remarked Chief Justice Gogoi.
“The states have appointed the Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (in pursuance of the Act of 2006) but the government of India has not stipulated the guidelines....it is the responsibility of the government but this court could monitor....”, continued Mr. Agarwal.
“Child marriages could be happening all over the country. How can the court monitor?”, asked Justice Kaul.
“You want a Declaration that the Act is a secular law and that personal laws could not lie in the way of its implementation?”, inquired the Chief Justice.
When the Counsel responded in the affirmative, the bench agreed to it.