Friday, October 07, 2005

Delhi HC: The Girls' Best Friend

15-year old girls in India must be squeaking with delight.

Does anyone know wtf is going on?

Since the courts are on such a roll, they should also take a fresh look at dowry, sati (or suttee, if the purists like it old-school), untouchability and just announce their merger with the freaking Taliban. Or maybe I have just not understood the nuances of this genius "nod on Child Marriage" ruling.

The Tourism Minister, Renuka Choudhury who is "baffled, upset and angry", gets it right: "you might as well allow them to drink, vote and drive".

Girls, remember to write that thank-you note to the Justices at Delhi High Court.

2 comments:

Saurabh said...

The Delhi High Court in this judgment has merely followed the law as it stands in this country today.

The Hindu Marriage Act (Section 11 read with Section 5) does not authorise the court to declare a marriage void on the ground that either of the parties to the marriage are underage.

Consequently, if the marriage is valid then the charge of rape or kidnapping/abduction does not arise.

Also, under the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code lays down that sexual intercourse between a man and his wife is not rape if the girl is 15 years of age or over.

What the Delhi High Court has done is merely follow the law as it stands and exposed the lacuna in the existing law. It is for the legislature to amend the law as required.

In the particular case where the court gave it's seemingly controversial judgment (there were three cases clubbed together, I speak of the leading case), the court examined both the husband and the wife and found that the girl, around 16, had reached the age of discretion and wanted to be with her husband.

As it is, under law established by precedents, where the girl has reached the age of discretion (15-16), and where the court finds that the girl has taken a mature decision to stay with her husband, the courts have refrained to interfere.

Also, in the particular judgment, the court held that before being sent to women's remand homes or nari niketans, the woman's wishes should be considered by the judge.

We shouldn't blame the court. They just went according to the law. And, in the process, they exposed the glaring lacuna in the law.

It's now up to Parliament to legislate on this and bring about the necessary amendment.

We need to stop going by media reports alone and try and get a copy of the judgment before we form opinions.

km said...

Saurabh,

Excellent point. Because I don't "go by mdia reports alone" and don't have access to a copy of the judgement and lack the time (or the smarts) to read it in entirety, I was counting on folks like you to tell me the reality of the situation.

So if I am interpreting your words correctly, child marriage *could* be legal in India? Then why were we taught that it was illegal and abolished?

Thanks for stopping by,

Krishna