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Task force formed to study issue of age of girls entering motherhood, Centre tells Delhi HC

ANI | Updated: Feb 19, 2020 15:41 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 19 (ANI): The Central government on Wednesday told Delhi High Court that a task force has been constituted to study the issue of age of girls entering motherhood.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to an equalised minimum age of marriage for men and women at 21 years.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar adjourned the matter for May 28 after the Centre's counsel Monika Arora informed about the development.
The court also asked the party in the case to file an affidavit.
The government counsel apprised the court citing speech given by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Budget.
"Women's age of marriage was increased from fifteen years to eighteen years in 1978, by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929. As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers. There are imperatives of lowering maternal mortality rate (MMR) as well as improvement of nutrition levels. The entire issue about age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months' time," Sitharaman had said.
The plea seeking 'uniform minimum age of marriage' was filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who said that at present, while men in India are permitted to get married at age of 21, women are allowed to get married when they are 18. It also mentioned that more than 125 countries in the world have a uniform age of marriage.
The litigant said the plea is filed in public interest under Article 226 and it challenges a blatant and ongoing form of discrimination against women.
"The discriminatory 'minimum age' limit for marriage for men and women is based in patriarchal stereotypes, has no scientific backing, perpetrates de jure and de facto inequality against women, and goes completely against the global trends," the plea said.
As per the petition, some of statutory provisions, which are responsible for discriminatory 'minimum age' limit for marriage include -- Section 60(1) of the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872; Section 3(1)(c) of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936; Section 4(c) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954; Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Section 2(a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
The plea stated that differential bar discriminates against women and contravene with the fundamental principles of gender equality, gender justice and dignity of women and breaching Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
The petitioner in his petition further stressed that women have a fundamental right to be free to pursue studies or occupations after finishing school at the age of 18. (ANI)