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India: Law Commission Recommends That Marriages of Those Under 18 Should be Rendered Void

India: Law Commission Recommends That Marriages of Those Under 18 Should be Rendered Void

The Law Commission of India has, in its 205th report, recommended that marriages of persons below the age of 18 years should be prohibited – whether of boys or girls. It also said that marriages below the age of 16 years be made void (empty, not valid, legally not binding).

Chairman of the Law Commission Justice A R Lakshmanan, former judge of the Supreme Court presented a report in this regard to the Union Law Minister on Tuesday.

Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA) provides for the prohibition of child marriages. But, the Act did not make a child marriage invalid even if the age of either the girl or boy is below 15 years of age.

As per Section 375 (Rape) of Indian Penal Code, sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of 15 years shall be deemed a crime (rape) even if she happens to be his wife. One of the reasons was to overcome this conflict or contradiction between PCMA and the Section 375 of the IPC.

The Law Commission also examined whether the new Act had addressed all the concerns relating to child abuse, health and human rights, which shall be a fall-out of a child marriage.

The Commission recommended that child marriages below the age of 18 years, either of the boys or the girls should be prohibited and made viodable (to declare no longer valid).

It further said that the marriages of those persons below the age of 16 years of age should be made void (unenforceable). However, to ensure that the young women and children are not left destitute, the Law Commission recommended that provisions of maintenance and custody should apply both to the void and voidable marriages.

The Commission further recommended that the age for sexual consent should be 16 years for all girls regardless of marriage (for cases of consensual sex or live-in relationships).

Finally, the Commission said that registration of marriages should be made compulsory.

Source: Newindpress.com – 7 February 2008