Child marriage is a violation of human rights: HC

Deviating from earlier decisions of the court when the minor brides were allowed to reside with their husbands, a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said that the 17-year-old bride would be staying with her parents and not with her spouse."In actuality, a child marriage is a violation of Human Rights, compromising the development of girls and often resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, with little education and poor vocational training reinforcing the gendered nature of poverty," the court said.
The Court passed the order on a petition filed by an NGO pleading it to declare the marriage illegal as 17-year old Chandni was forced to marry 40-year-old widower Yashpal.

The court, however, refused to declare the marriage void as the matter pertaining to the legality of marriage involving minors are being adjudicated by a larger bench but restrained the husband to consummate the marriage.

"Till Chandni attains the age of 18, she shall stay with her parents and not with her spouse. Yaspal shall not consummate the marriage and it would be not only his responsibility but the parents of Chandni shall also ensure this," the court said.
"Child marriage perpetuates an unrelenting cycle of gender inequality, sickness and poverty," the court said.

In this case, Chandni's father got her married to Yashpal who claimed he was 35.
After an NGO Association for Social Justice and Research intervened in the matter, the court asked the Delhi Police to find the couple and their family as she could not be traced out.

The Delhi police lodged an FIR and arrested Yashpal and Chandni's father and she was produced before the court.The Court while restraining Yashpal to live with Chandni and to consummate the marriage referred the legal issue of validity of the marriage to a larger bench.

The court expressed concern over the prevalence of the social evil in the society which perpetuates gender inequality.

"The surprising thing is that almost all communities where this practise is prevalent are well aware of the fact that marrying child is illegal, it is even punishable under the law. NGOs as well as the government agencies have been working for decades to root out this evil. Yet, the reality is that the evil continues to survive," the court said."Women who marry early are more likely to suffer abuse and violence with inevitable psychological as well as physical consequences," the court said."Early marriage has also been linked to wife abandonment and increased level of divorce or separation and child brides also face the risk of being widowed by their husbands who are often considerably older," it said.

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