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The Child Marriage Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2021 : An Overview

The Child Marriage Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2021 : An Overview

In some countries, the practice of child marriage is still taking place. As the world is entering into 21st century and the old tradition is changing drastically in a good way, some traditions don’t want to change the peripheral of the old tradition. They want to carry the old baggage on their shoulders. Child marriage is a fundamental violation as marrying a child at a young age can affect their mental and physical health. They can suffer from emotional abuse as well. Child marriage is an old practice that is happening since ancient times. It came from the roots of our ancestors. According to Section 2  of PMCA of 2006, it mentioned that “, “child” means a person who, if a male has not completed twenty-one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age; but after Amendment Bill of 2021 introduced, “the term ‘child’ refers to any male or female who has not completed the age of 21 years, regardless of any laws or customary practices that are opposed to this amendment, which was done to execute equality among all citizen of India.”


Even before the colonization of India, the child marriage practice was a triumph in India. The girl child is the one who suffered the most. Before knowing this filthy world, the child bride faced various crimes such as marital rape and domestic violence. In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was executed to completely destroy the child marriage practice. The age limit for the boy was 18 years and for the girl was 14 years. But there were various issues with the law. At the age of 14, the girl enters her teenage years, and tries to understand her surroundings and the family environment, marrying her at that age would only pressurize her to be mature enough to handle her family and house which can affect her mentally and physically. And the punishment in the Act was very irrelevant. So, after post- Independence, the act was amended and in 1978 the age limit was increased for girls was 18 years and for boys, it was 21 years.


The child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 was replaced by the Indian Government and in that place Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) of 2006 is being functioned. As the Indian government is trying to eradicate the child marriage practice completely from the country the prohibition of child marriage Act is provided important legal terms that will restrict child marriages, and strengthen penalties for those who aid, abet, promote, or solemnize child marriage weddings, and offer victims’ rights protection.

  • According to Section 3 of the Act, Child marriages are voidable at the option of the contracting party if the girl child is below the age of 18 and the boy child is below the age of 21.
  • According to section 6 of the Act, If any child is born from the child marriage prior to the decree passed would be deemed to be a legitimate child.
  • According to section 9 of the Act, if an adult solemnizes a child marriage, then he is liable for rigorous imprisonment of two years or a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or both. 
  • According to section 10 of the Act, the punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment which may extend to 2 years, and shall be liable to a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees for anyone who conducts, directs, abet, and performs child marriage. 
  • According to section 11 of the Act, mentions that if a person who negligently fails to prevent the solemnization of child marriage including attending or participating in child marriage, or anyone who promotes it shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years along with a fine which can extend to one lakh rupees.
  • According to section 16 of the Act, provides the provision for the appointment of the child marriage prohibition officer by the state government and provides the duties and power. 

         Section16(3) The duty of the  Child Marriage Prohibition Officer should be—

 (a) to prevent solemnization of child marriages by taking such action as he may deem fit; 

(b) to collect evidence for the effective prosecution of persons contravening the provisions of this Act;

 (c) to advise either individual cases or counsel the residents of the locality generally not to indulge in promoting, helping, aiding, or allowing the solemnization of child marriages; 

(d) to create awareness of the evil which results from child marriages; (e) to sensitize the community on the issue of child marriages; 

(f) to furnish such periodical returns and statistics as the State Government may direct; and

 (g) to discharge such other functions and duties as may be assigned to him by the State Government.f the officers. 


The prohibition of Child Marriage Act, of 2006 supersedes the Child Marriage Restraint Act, of 1929 to prohibit the solemnization of child marriages in our country. However, in some states, child marriage is still practiced in the country. India is one of the most affected, underdeveloped, and backward countries in prohibiting child marriage. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 50% of child marriages still happen in India. To make a changement in the situation, the legislature has introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment), Bill,2021. The bill seeks to make amendments to the Act. 

  • The first amendment the bill seeks is to bring the minimum age of the girl child up to 21 years for marriage equality to the male child
  • The second amendment the bill seeks is to increase the limitation period from 2 years to 5 years for the marriage to be declared null and void.
  • If the bill is enacted, it shall bring the amendment to all the personal laws, in order to change the minimum age requirement to 21 for both men and women.


Lajja Devi vs State 27th July 2012

According to the case, Mrs Lajja Devi forwarded a letter to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, informing the justice about the abduction of her daughter, Ms Meera, who was around 14 years old was kidnapped by Promod, Vinod, Satish, Manoj S/o Shri Raj Mal. This kidnapping is purported to have taken place when Ms Meera visited Delhi to meet the brother-in-law of the Complainant at A- 113, Rajiv Nagar Extension, Near Village Begumpur, Delhi-110086. On the basis of the said information, an FIR bearing No.113/2008 under Section 363 IPC had been registered at P.S. Sultanpuri on 21st February 2008 against the aforesaid accused persons. The High Court treated the letter as a writ petition and commenced the proceedings of the case. It was found by the Court that Meera was not abducted, rather she eluded her parents to marry one Charan Singh. Meera made a statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 that she eloped of her own will and married Charan as she was being forced to marry someone else by her parents.

The issue before the Delhi High Court was whether the marriage of Charan and Meera, provided that Meera was a minor at the time of the marriage, would be void under the Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955. The Court analyzed the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and held that the Act would override the personal laws, and the child marriage contracted by a minor girl, shall be voidable. The Court also held that since the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 provisions provide that a child marriage shall be voidable, it cannot be held void in any case.

Association for Social Justice vs Union of India (2010)

The purpose and rationale behind the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, of 2006 are that there should not be a marriage of a child at a tender age as he/she is neither psychologically nor physically fit to get married. There could be various psychological and other implications of such marriage, particularly if the child happens to be a girl. In actuality, child marriage is a violation of human rights, compromising the development of girls and often resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, with little education and poor vocational training reinforcing the gendered nature of poverty. Young married girls are a unique, though often invisible, group. Required to perform heavy amounts of domestic work, under pressure to demonstrate fertility, and responsible for raising children while still children themselves, married girls and child mothers face constrained decision-making and reduced life choices. Boys are also affected by child marriage but the issue impacts girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity. When a girl lives with a man and takes on the role of caregiver for him, the assumption is often that she has become an adult woman, even if she has not yet reached the age of 18.


After the enactment of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, the maximum problem with the 1978 Amendment was solved, still, the cultural and social issue of child marriage continued to happen because of the ignorance of the law’s provision and insufficiency of assertive enforcement personnel and administrators to deal with.

  • According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage 2006 Act, if a child is kidnapped, if a district court petition for annulment is filed or the child is removed from the care of a guardian, or if there are chances of child trafficking, fraud or force is involved or if the child is sold for marriage in exchange of money.
  • According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage 2006 Act, if the child is below 18 years, then only the guardian of the child or any close relative can file the petition with the guidance of the child marriage prohibition officer. 
  • This can be a major issue as sometimes the children have to fight against their own family verbally and physically which prevents them from filing a case.
  • A number of non-governmental groups have supported fining government officers who failed to stop and register such weddings in their jurisdiction.
  • Many small towns still conduct child marriage despite the Act’s effects to outlaw them.


According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage of 2006 Act, a citizen who got married before reaching the legal age of marriage can seek an annulment of marriage, and the person needs to file the petition within 2 years of attaining majority which is 20 years of age. But after the amendment of the will in 2021 the minimum age to file for a petition has been increased from 2 years to 5 years i.e 23 years.


The case of child marriage is still a sensitive issue in our country. The amendments will bring various changes that will definitely help in ensuring equality among all. After the marriage age increases for the girl child from 18 to 21 it will help to achieve various goals such as the improvement of maternal and infant mortality rates (MMR & IMR), sex ratio at birth, labour workforce participation, nutrition level, and gender equality. To eradicate child marriages in India, the government should focus more on girls’ education, and economic and cultural issues should be solved in rural areas as it contributes to early marriages among women. There should be stricter implementation of laws as constitutional changes within the government system and society should support such legislation to promote actual women’s empowerment.

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