The petitioner, Jitendra Kumar Sharma, who is not yet 18 years old, had sought the court's intervention after a criminal case was registered against him on the complaint of his 16-year-old wife's family. They alleged that the boy had kidnapped her.
The court said, "A marriage in contravention of clause (iii) of section 5 (which fixes minimum age of 21 years for bridegroom and 18 years for bride) does not fall in the category of void marriages nor does it fall in the category of voidable marriages. Consequently, by the process of elimination, it would be a valid marriage."
A division bench comprising Justices B D Ahmed and V K Jain said the clause which laid down the minimum age, wasn't one of the conditions stipulated in the Hindu Marriage Act that would render a marriage void.
"It is clear that, earlier, a child marriage may not have been voidable under personal law, as in the case of the Hindu Marriage Act, by virtue of the section 3 of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, it has explicitly been made voidable at the option of the child spouse," the court said.
The court ordered quashing of the FIR, which had booked the boy for kidnapping and rape, stating that "Poonam (the bride) has clearly stated that she left her home on her own."