SC commends Ktka amendment in child marriage law, asks other govts. to follow su

SC commends Ktka amendment in child marriage law, asks other govts. to follow su

The Supreme Court on Wednesday commended the Karnataka government's amendment to the law by declaring all child marriages as void and asked other states to follow suit.

The Court said early marriage takes away the self confidence of a girl child and subjects her, in a sense, to sexual abuse. Under no circumstances can it be said that such a girl child lives a life of dignity.

On Karnataka High Court's direction on November 10, 2010, a committee headed by former SC judge Justice Shivraj V Patil examined the issue and recommended that marriage of a girl child below the age of 18 years should be declared void ab initio.

Subsequently, the state legislature has inserted sub-Section (1A) in Section 3 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. Having received the assent of the President on April 20, 2017, henceforth, all child marriages that are solemnized are void ab initio.

“The most obvious and appropriate resolution of the conflict has been provided by the state of Karnataka. Therefore, the husband of a girl child would be liable for punishment for a child marriage under the PCMA, for penetrative sexual assault or aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and if the husband and the girl child are living together in the same or shared household for rape under the IPC,” Justice Madan B Lokur said.

The court said it would be wise for all the state legislatures to adopt the route taken by Karnataka to void child marriages and thereby ensure that sexual intercourse between a girl child and her husband is a punishable offence under the POCSO Act and the IPC.

Noting the Karnataka development, Justice Deepak Gupta, in his separate judgement, said, “This is how the law should have been throughout the country. Where the marriage is void, there cannot be a husband or a wife and I have no doubt that protection of Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC cannot be availed of by those persons, who claim to be 'husband' of 'child brides' pursuant to a marriage which is illegal and void.”

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