HC: Marriage in violation of Permissible Age not Void but Voidable -orders for Registration of Marriage

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 mandates that the permissible age for marriage is 21 years for a male & 18 years in case of female. If anyone marries in violation of the said permissible age, there is contravention of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The question that arises is what is the legal sanctity of marriage in violation of aforesaid Section 5 of the HMA 1955?

The  Punjab & Haryana High Court recently on 15 June 2020 in the case of ‘Deepak Kumar and another vs State of Haryana and others’ dealt with such a situation. The petitioner had filed a writ petition with a prayer for directions to the authorities to register their marriage. The petitioners got married on 20.11.2015 and their marriage was arranged by their respective families. Meanwhile, two children have been born out of the wedlock. On 18.11.2019, the petitioners  applied for registration of their marriage but the authorities have not registered their marriage till date because the petitioner was less than 21 years of age on the date of the marriage and thus, there was a violation of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The Court noted that in view of Sections 11 and 12 of the said Act, the marriage was only ‘voidable’. Neither of the parties has sought to avoid their marriage and thus, there was no legal bar in registration of the same. The case was covered by the binding Precedents in Baljit Kaur Boprai Vs. State of Punjab and another, 2008 (3) RCR (Civil) 109 as well as Jyoti and another Vs. State of Haryana and others, 2019 (4) RCR (Civil) 577.

The Court categorically held thus:

” 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, their marriage is legal and there is no bar for Registration. The case is squarely covered by Baljit Kaur Boprai’s and Jyoti’s case supra.”

Accordingly the Court allowed the writ petition and directed for immediate registration of their marriage. However, in case one of the parties to the marriage, below the prescribed age, moves to court for annulment of their marriage, the same is ‘voidable’ & the Court may take decision to annul such a marriage according to the individual facts and circumstances of the case.

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