If a minor was married off before attaining the age of 18, then separation can be sought from the husband only through a divorce in case she did not declare the marriage void after officially becoming an adult, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled.
Setting aside the judgment of a family court in Ludhiana that called the marriage invalid and thus refused to grant divorce by mutual consent to the couple, the division bench of the Punjab and Haryana HC ruled that the petition for divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, should have been allowed, The Times of India reported.
Last year, the couple had sought a dissolution of their marriage before the Ludhiana family court on June 22. The family court cited Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 that requires the bride to be 18 or above for union to be considered legally valid.
Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Arun Monga issued the order saying, “Since the respondent wife was 17 years, 6 months and 8 days old at the time of marriage, and for all intents and purposes no petition was filed for declaration of her marriage as void by the wife, the petition for divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, should have been allowed.”
The couple seeking divorce had tied the knots on February 27, 2009 when the man was of 23 years of age and they had a child on January 31, 2010.
The court recorded the statements of both parties and granted the couple divorce by mutual consent.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court said that the Ludhiana family court had “wrongly dismissed the petition" of the couple by invoking the Madras HC judgment about both parties being required to get their marriage nullified as per Section 13(2)(iv) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The HC said since the girl was just over 17-year-old at the time of the wedding and did not file for a dissolution of marriage on attaining the age of majority, the plea for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent should have been allowed by the family court.