Author: Sneba Saswatee, Student at KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Marriage is an institution consisting a tremendous amount of responsibility and liability. Indian society and their prevailing rigid thought and norms have obstructed people, particularly women from taking their life decisions such as at what age and with whom they want marry. In the ancient India there existed a typical and unacceptable custom of child marriage where girls were pushed into marriage at the age of 10 to 12 years, which was then abolished and the legal marriage age limit was set in 1978. There are several personal laws governing marriage of various religion such as Hindu marriage act, 1955, Muslim personal laws, Indian Christian marriage act, 1872, The Parsi marriage and divorce act, 1936, foreign marriage act, 1892 and special marriage act, 1954 which provides the essential condition for a legal marriage. One of most important essential for a legal marriage as mentioned in the special marriage act is the age limit for entering into marital relationship being 21 years for boys and 18 years for girls. A bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on 21st December 2021 proposing for enhancement of legal age limit for marriage of a girl from 18 years to 21 years making it equal with the age limit for boys, to reduce the gender disparity and empower women as claimed by the current women and child welfare minister. This piece of writing aims to analyze the rationale and socio-legal perception of the proposed bill.