The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday directed the concerned authorities to register the marriage of a Hindu-couple, while holding that marriages solemnized in violation of age restrictions under Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, are not void.
"A perusal of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, shows that in case, a marriage has been solemnized in violation of the age restriction laid down therein, the marriage is only voidable. However, neither of the parties have sought annulment of the marriage. In fact, the parties are seeking to register their marriage. In law, the marriage is legal and there is no bar to its registration," Justice Sudhir Mittal observed.
In the facts of the case, the Petitioners got married in the year 2015. At the time, the groom was below the 21 years of age, the minimum legal age prescribed for marriage under Section 5(iii) of the HMA.
The application for registration of marriage was moved in the year 2019, i.e. when both the bride and the groom had come of marriageable age.
The court observed that since none of the parties had sought for annulment of marriage on account of it being voidable, the authorities ought to have registered the marriage. The bench concurred with the Petitioners' submissions that there is no legal bar in registration of marriage when neither of the Petitioners sought an annulment.
The bench said that the law in this regard was settled in the case of Baljit Kaur Boprai v. State of Punjab & Anr., 2008 (3) RCR (Civil) 109, whereby the High Court had held that an application for registration of marriage, after both the parties have attained majority, has to be accepted.
"The parties are required to have completed the age of 21 years at the time of registration of their marriage," the court had held therein while emphasizing on the need to register marriages, as they hold great evidentiary value in the matter of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock, etc.
It may be noted that under Section 11 of the HMA, violation of Section 5(iii) is not a condition for declaring a marriage as void. In fact, even under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, the marriage involving minors had not been declared as invalid. Section 3 of that Act stipulates Child marriages to be voidable at the option of contracting party being a child.
Emphasizing on this position, the Delhi High Court had in the case of Jitender Kumar Sharma v. State & Anr., had held,
"It is clear that where, earlier, a child marriage may not have been voidable under personal law, as in the case of the Hindu Marriage Act, by virtue of the section 3 of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, it has explicitly been made voidable at the option of the child spouse. But nobody other than a party to the marriage can petition for its annulment."
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