Bench did not reach a conclusive point on exact age of girl

Describing the marriage of a minor girl as a peculiar and special case, the Delhi High Court has allowed her to stay with her husband with certain conditions, after keeping her in a Nirmal Chhaya home for seven months and providing counselling by the Child Welfare Committee on the pros and cons of a child marriage.

A Division Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Siddharth Mridul passed the order on a petition by the husband of the girl, quoting an earlier judgment by the Full Bench of this Court, allowing a minor girl to stay with her husband.

"The present case, according to us, is peculiar and falls into exception carved out in the aforesaid decision," the Bench stated while allowing the girl to go with her husband.

The Bench could not reach a conclusive point on the exact age of the girl. As per her school records, her date of birth was July 16, 1996. She married the boy on July 27, 2012.

However, the girl challenged the date of birth mentioned in the school records and claimed that she was more than 18 year. Her father also could not give her exact date of birth. Hence, the Bench rejected the school records, saying that "the date of birth recorded in the school is therefore not true and correct date or veritable but a convenient date or a guess".

The Bench later ordered her bone ossification test which approximated her age to be 16 year with one year below of above. The Bench described this “a mere estimation and variation is possible". It said that “it is clear that the exact age is somewhat uncertain".

Allowing her to go to her matrimonial home, the Bench said “We have spoken to the girl at great length in the chamber and find that she is mature and understands the consequences of the choice she is making.’’

“She has spent seven months in Nirmal Chhaya but her decision to live with the boy is consistent. It is apparent that she loves and likes him. The parents of the girl have stopped coming to the Court as they know her wishes and desire," the Bench further stated.

"We have constrained to pass this order as we find that it will not be correct to detain the girl in Nirmal Chhaya. Even after about seven months’ stay in Nirmal Chhaya she has not changed her mind."

“She has been counselled and clearly not under influence and pressure from anyone. To her, Nirmal Chhaya is a confinement and detention, which infringes upon her liberty and right to live with persons/family of her choice and desire. This confinement, it is apparent, is depriving her of love, affection and care which only a family can provide and which she requires and needs from the boy and his family members,’’ the Bench further stated.

"The couple will continue to visit Nirmal Chhaya for counselling once every month after the girl is released, till December, 2013, and the girl will be given one telephone number of the Child Welfare Officer with whom she can get in touch in case she faces any difficulty," the Bench said while giving her liberty to live with the boy.

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