Court Decision on Marriage Age

court decision on marriage age

In the recent case of ‘Azka Wahid vs Province of Punjab’, Lahore High Court declared the different legal ages for marriage for men and women in the Punjab Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 as unconstitutional. This decision is significant because it challenges the gender-based discrepancy in the law, which has been criticized for years. The court directed the government of Punjab to revise the law to set a uniform minimum marriage age for both genders.

The current law allows girls to marry at 16, while boys must wait until they are 18. This difference has been deemed unfair and against the principle of equality by the court. The judgment aims to align marriage laws with international standards and ensure equal treatment of both sexes.

However, simply raising the marriage age may not be enough to deter child marriages. Despite existing laws against marrying minors, millions of girls in Pakistan are still married before they turn 18. Courts often consider puberty as a determining factor in marriage, overlooking the legal age prescriptions.

In 2022, Islamabad High Court challenged this practice, stating that marriages involving minors are invalid under the law, as they involve actions considered illegal. This holistic interpretation of the law, along with stricter penalties in the Child Marriage Restraint Act, is crucial to combating the issue of child marriages.

Ny Opinion:

The court’s decision to declare gendered differences in the legal age of marriage unconstitutional is a step in the right direction towards achieving gender equality and protecting children’s rights. However, addressing the root causes of child marriages requires a comprehensive approach, including legal reforms and societal change.