The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006; Important Questions

 

  • What does this law do?
  • allows anyone who was a child at the time of getting married to legally undo it;
  • provides for maintenance for the girl in a child marriage;
  • treats children born out of child marriages to be legitimate, and makes provisions for their custody and maintenance; and
  • considers certain kinds of child marriages where there was force or trafficking as marriages which never happened legally.

  • What is a crime under this law?
  • for an adult male to marry a child wife;
  • to perform or help with a child marriage in any way;
  • to allow, encourage or fail to stop a child marriage (as a parent or guardian); and
  • to attend or take part in a child marriage (as a parent or guardian).

  • Where can you go to stop or undo a child marriage?
  • You can directly go to a District Court and make an application – the judge can pass an order directing the people involved to not take part in the child marriage.
  • You can go to a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer for help with annulling a child marriage.

  •  Who is a child under this law?

Under this law, a child is a:

  • boy under 21 years of age, or
  • girl under 18 years of age,

  • Who is a minor under this law?

A person under 18 years of age is a minor.


  • When is a child marriage said to have taken place?

When either party to a marriage is a child, a child marriage is said to have taken place.


  • Who is a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer?

A Child Marriage Prohibition Officer is the official authority who is supposed to spread awareness and try and prevent child marriages. She can also help a person who wants to get out of such a marriage to make an application to the court to annul it.


  • What are ‘district courts’ under this law?

In this Act, whenever there is a reference to a ‘district court’, it usually means the Family Court or City Civil Court.

  • In areas with a Family Court, the district court is the Family Court.
  • In areas without a Family Court, the district court is the City Civil Court.
  • In areas without a Family Court or a City Civil Court, the district court will be the main civil court of the area.

The State Government may also notify other civil courts which can deal with matters under this Act.


  • Is it possible to undo a child marriage legally?

3. Child marriages to be voidable at the option of contracting party being a child.—

Yes, it is possible to undo the legal effect of a marriage – annulling a child marriage would mean that the marriage is treated as not having any legal effect.

By whom? Someone who was a child at the time of the marriage.
How?
  • Filing a petition in a district court.
  • If the child is below 18, she or he can file the petition through a guardian or adult friend or well-wisher along with a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.
By when?
  • If the person wanting to annul it is a girl, she must file it by the time she is 18.
  • If the person wanting to annul it is a boy, he must file it by the time he is 21.

  • What does the district court do when it has annulled the marriage?
  • When a child marriage is annulled by the court, the court will order both parties to return all money, valuables, and other gifts (or cash value) that were exchanged at the time of the marriage.
  • If the parties think that such an order should not be passed, the court has to hear their case.

  • What kind of maintenance orders can the court pass?

4. Provision for maintenance and residence to female contracting party to child marriage.—

If… Then, the court can order …
…you were the girl in a child marriage which has been annulled by the court
  • …the male party to pay you maintenance, and
  • the male party to ensure that you have a place to stay until you get re-married.
  • The court will keep in mind your needs and lifestyle choice while deciding how much maintenance can be paid to you. It will also look at the income of the other party to figure out what is feasible.
  • The court can order that the money be paid at one go or on a monthly basis.

  • What about the custody of children born out of child marriages?

5. Custody and maintenance of children of child marriages.—

If… Then, the court can …
children are born out the child marriage
  • pass custody orders
  • allow the other party to visit or get partial custody of the child (if that is in the best interest of the child)
  • pass orders for providing maintenance to the child

When deciding who will get custody, the court will always keep in mind the welfare and best interests of the child.


  • What is the status of children born from child marriages?
  1. Legitimacy of children born of child marriages.—

The law considers any child born from a child marriage (even after it been annulled) as legitimate – the child will have rights to inheritance etc.


  • Can the court alter the maintenance and custody orders?

7. Power of district court to modify orders issued under section 4 or section 5.—

Yes, if there is any change in the circumstances, the district court may change or even officially cancel any of its orders as to maintenance or custody.


  • Which court should you go to annul a child marriage?
  1. Court to which petition should be made.—

If you were a party to a child marriage and now want to annul the marriage, you should go to the district court in the area:

  • where the other party to the marriage or the child resides; or
  • where the marriage took place; or
  • where you stayed last with the other party.

  • What is the punishment for an adult man marrying a child?

9. Punishment for male adult marrying a child.—

Crime Jail time Fine
Adult man (above 18) marrying a child Rigorous jail time up to 2 years Up to Rs. 1 lakh

  •  Is it a crime to help with or conduct a child marriage?

10. Punishment for solemnising a child marriage.—

Crime Jail time Fine
Conducting or directing or helping a child marriage Rigorous jail time up to 2 years Up to Rs. 1 lakh

Exception-If you can prove that you had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage, you will not be guilty of committing a crime.

Example-Ravi is a priest and conducted a marriage between Raj, 17 and Simran 16.

  • If the priest knew that Raj was only 17 and not old enough to marry lawfully, he can be sent to jail for up to 2 years.
  • If Raj’s father told the priest that Raj was 22 years old, then the priest will not be punished.

  • Can the parents be punished for allowing a child marriage to take place?

11. Punishment for promoting or permitting solemnisation of child marriages.—

Who can be punished Crime Jail time Fine
Any person or organization or association of persons in charge of the child

  • parent
  • guardian
  • anyone else in charge

No woman can be punished.

Encouraging or helping a child marriageNot stopping a child marriageAttending or taking part in a wedding Rigorous jail time up to 2 years Up to Rs. 1 lakh

The court will assume that a person in charge of a child at the time of her marriage negligently failed to prevent it.


  • When marriage of a minor child to be declared as void? Section 12

In certain situations, the law treats the marriage as never having happened even if neither party has applied to annul the marriage. This happens if either party to a marriage has:

  • taken or tempted a minor (below 18) away from his or her guardian;
  • forced or dishonestly made a minor leave his or her place;
  • ‘sold’ a minor into marriage; or
  • married a minor and then sold or trafficked him or her for immoral purposes.

  • What can the court do if it comes to know that a child marriage is going to be conducted?

It has been given in section 11 of the act:-

  • A court (Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, or a Metropolitan Magistrate) can pass an order asking people involved to not conduct the marriage (known as injunction).
  • The court can pass this order when someone files a complaint or if the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer makes an application.

  • Who can make a complaint?
  • Someone who knows what is happening or is involved in some manner.
  • An NGO which has come to know that the child marriage might happen.

  • Can a judge take action on her own?

Yes, she can if she has received reliable information about a child marriage which is going to take place.


  • What are the powers of a District Magistrate with regard to child marriage?

On certain days that are considered auspicious, a large number of child marriages tend to occur in India. On such days, the District Magistrate shall have all the powers of the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.

The District Magistrate should take all possible steps to prevent child marriages on such days. She should try to use minimal force.


  • How does a court pass an ‘injunction’ (order) to stop a child marriage?
  • Before passing an injunction to stop a child marriage, the court has to first give notice to the parties. It has to give them a chance to explain their case.
  • In very urgent matters, the court can pass a temporary injunction without giving notice to the parties.
  • After giving notice, and hearing the parties, the court can confirm or cancel the injunction.
  • The court can change its order or even cancel it on its own.
  • If someone makes an application to the court for an injunction order to stop a child marriage from happening, the court must allow the person to present their facts as soon as possible. The court can also choose to listen to this person’s lawyer.
  • If the court does not accept the application (fully or partly), it has to record its reasons.

  • What if the child marriage happens despite a court injunction order against it?
  • If someone knowingly does not obey a court injunction order and goes ahead with the child marriage, he or she can be punished with jail time of up to 2 years or fine of Rs. 1 lakh or both.
  • A woman cannot be punished for this.

  •  What is the legal validity of marriages which violate a court injunction order?

The law will treat such child marriages as never having happened. It is not a legal marriage.


  • Treatment of crimes:
  • The police do not need a warrant to arrest for offences or conduct investigation of crimes under this Act.
  • On being arrested, bail cannot be claimed as a matter of right. The Court may accept or reject an application of bail in its discretion.

  • What are the duties of a Child Marriage Protection Officer?

16. Child Marriage Prohibition Officers.—

This section provides for the appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers, along with their powers and duties.

Duties of a Child Marriage Protection Officer include:

  • stopping child marriages from happening;
  • collecting proof so that the persons responsible for such marriages are sent to jail;
  • talking and advising people to not take part in, encourage or allow such marriages;
  • spreading awareness about why child marriages are wrong;
  • explaining the issues concerning child marriages to communities;
  • making regular reports for the State Government; and
  • performing any other functions assigned to her.

Sometimes the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer may have the powers of a police officer if it has been given such powers by the State Government.

A Child Marriage Prohibition Officer, in order to prevent child marriages, can apply to the court for:

  • annulling a child marriage;
  • maintenance orders;
  • custody orders; and
  • an injunction to stop a child marriage from happening.

18. Protection of action taken in good faith.—

A Child Marriage Prohibition Officer cannot be pulled up in a court of law for anything she has done in good faith under this law.


  • What does this law do?
  • allows anyone who was a child at the time of getting married to legally undo it;
  • provides for maintenance for the girl in a child marriage;
  • treats children born out of child marriages to be legitimate, and makes provisions for their custody and maintenance; and
  • considers certain kinds of child marriages where there was force or trafficking as marriages which never happened legally.

  • What is a crime under this law?
  • for an adult male to marry a child wife;
  • to perform or help with a child marriage in any way;
  • to allow, encourage or fail to stop a child marriage (as a parent or guardian); and
  • to attend or take part in a child marriage (as a parent or guardian).

  • Where can you go to stop or undo a child marriage?
  • You can directly go to aDistrict Court and make an application – the judge can pass an order directing the people involved to not take part in the child marriage.
  • You can go to aChild Marriage Prohibition Officer for help with annulling a child marriage.

  •  Who is a child under this law?

Under this law, a child is a:

  • boy under 21 years of age, or
  • girl under 18 years of age,

  • Who is a minor under this law?

A person under 18 years of age is a minor.


  • When is a child marriage said to have taken place?

When either party to a marriage is a child, a child marriage is said to have taken place.


  • Who is a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer?

A Child Marriage Prohibition Officer is the official authority who is supposed to spread awareness and try and prevent child marriages. She can also help a person who wants to get out of such a marriage to make an application to the court to annul it.


  • What are ‘district courts’ under this law?

In this Act, whenever there is a reference to a ‘district court’, it usually means the Family Court or City Civil Court.

  • In areas with a Family Court, the district court is the Family Court.
  • In areas without a Family Court, the district court is the City Civil Court.
  • In areas without a Family Court or a City Civil Court, the district court will be the main civil court of the area.

The State Government may also notify other civil courts which can deal with matters under this Act.


  • Is it possible to undo a child marriage legally?

3. Child marriages to be voidable at the option of contracting party being a child.—

Yes, it is possible to undo the legal effect of a marriage – annulling a child marriage would mean that the marriage is treated as not having any legal effect.

By whom? Someone who was a child at the time of the marriage.
How?
  • Filing a petition in a district court.
  • If the child is below 18, she or he can file the petition through a guardian or adult friend or well-wisher along with a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.
By when?
  • If the person wanting to annul it is a girl, she must file it by the time she is 18.
  • If the person wanting to annul it is a boy, he must file it by the time he is 21.

  • What does the district court do when it has annulled the marriage?
  • When a child marriage is annulled by the court, the court will order both parties to return all money, valuables, and other gifts (or cash value) that were exchanged at the time of the marriage.
  • If the parties think that such an order should not be passed, the court has to hear their case.

  • What kind of maintenance orders can the court pass?

4. Provision for maintenance and residence to female contracting party to child marriage.—

If… Then, the court can order …
…you were the girl in a child marriage which has been annulled by the court
  • …the male party to pay you maintenance, and
  • the male party to ensure that you have a place to stay until you get re-married.
  • The court will keep in mind your needs and lifestyle choice while deciding how much maintenance can be paid to you. It will also look at the income of the other party to figure out what is feasible.
  • The court can order that the money be paid at one go or on a monthly basis.

  • What about the custody of children born out of child marriages?

5. Custody and maintenance of children of child marriages.—

If… Then, the court can …
children are born out the child marriage
  • pass custody orders
  • allow the other party to visit or get partial custody of the child (if that is in the best interest of the child)
  • pass orders for providing maintenance to the child

When deciding who will get custody, the court will always keep in mind the welfare and best interests of the child.


  •  What is the status of children born from child marriages?
  1. Legitimacy of children born of child marriages.—

The law considers any child born from a child marriage (even after it been annulled) as legitimate – the child will have rights to inheritance etc.


  • Can the court alter the maintenance and custody orders?

7. Power of district court to modify orders issued under section 4 or section 5.—

Yes, if there is any change in the circumstances, the district court may change or even officially cancel any of its orders as to maintenance or custody.


  • Which court should you go to annul a child marriage?
  1. Court to which petition should be made.—

If you were a party to a child marriage and now want to annul the marriage, you should go to the district court in the area:

  • where the other party to the marriage or the child resides; or
  • where the marriage took place; or
  • where you stayed last with the other party.

  • What is the punishment for an adult man marrying a child?

9. Punishment for male adult marrying a child.—

Crime Jail time Fine
Adult man (above 18) marrying a child Rigorous jail time up to 2 years Up to Rs. 1 lakh

  •  Is it a crime to help with or conduct a child marriage?

10. Punishment for solemnising a child marriage.—

Crime Jail time Fine
Conducting or directing or helping a child marriage Rigorous jail time up to 2 years Up to Rs. 1 lakh

Exception-If you can prove that you had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage, you will not be guilty of committing a crime.

Example-Ravi is a priest and conducted a marriage between Raj, 17 and Simran 16.

  • If the priest knew that Raj was only 17 and not old enough to marry lawfully, he can be sent to jail for up to 2 years.
  • If Raj’s father told the priest that Raj was 22 years old, then the priest will not be punished.

  • Can the parents be punished for allowing a child marriage to take place?

11. Punishment for promoting or permitting solemnisation of child marriages.—

Who can be punished Crime Jail time Fine
Any person or organization or association of persons in charge of the child

  • parent
  • guardian
  • anyone else in charge

No woman can be punished.

Encouraging or helping a child marriageNot stopping a child marriageAttending or taking part in a wedding Rigorous jail time up to 2 years Up to Rs. 1 lakh

The court will assume that a person in charge of a child at the time of her marriage negligently failed to prevent it.


  • When marriage of a minor child to be declared as void?

In certain situations, the law treats the marriage as never having happened even if neither party has applied to annul the marriage. This happens if either party to a marriage has:

  • taken or tempted a minor (below 18) away from his or her guardian;
  • forced or dishonestly made a minor leave his or her place;
  • ‘sold’ a minor into marriage; or
  • married a minor and then sold or trafficked him or her for immoral purposes.

  • What can the court do if it comes to know that a child marriage is going to be conducted?

It has been given in section 11 of the act:-

  • A court (Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, or a Metropolitan Magistrate) can pass an order asking people involved to not conduct the marriage (known as injunction).
  • The court can pass this order when someone files a complaint or if the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer makes an application.

  • Who can make a complaint?
  • Someone who knows what is happening or is involved in some manner.
  • An NGO which has come to know that the child marriage might happen.

  • Can a judge take action on her own?

Yes, she can if she has received reliable information about a child marriage which is going to take place.


  • What are the powers of a District Magistrate with regard to child marriage?

On certain days that are considered auspicious, a large number of child marriages tend to occur in India. On such days, the District Magistrate shall have all the powers of the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.

The District Magistrate should take all possible steps to prevent child marriages on such days. She should try to use minimal force.


  • How does a court pass an ‘injunction’ (order) to stop a child marriage?
  • Before passing an injunction to stop a child marriage, the court has to first give notice to the parties. It has to give them a chance to explain their case.
  • In very urgent matters, the court can pass a temporary injunction without giving notice to the parties.
  • After giving notice, and hearing the parties, the court can confirm or cancel the injunction.
  • The court can change its order or even cancel it on its own.
  • If someone makes an application to the court for an injunction order to stop a child marriage from happening, the court must allow the person to present their facts as soon as possible. The court can also choose to listen to this person’s lawyer.
  • If the court does not accept the application (fully or partly), it has to record its reasons.

  • What if the child marriage happens despite a court injunction order against it?
  • If someone knowingly does not obey a court injunction order and goes ahead with the child marriage, he or she can be punished with jail time of up to 2 years or fine of Rs. 1 lakh or both.
  • A woman cannot be punished for this.

  •  What is the legal validity of marriages which violate a court injunction order?

The law will treat such child marriages as never having happened. It is not a legal marriage.

Treatment of crimes:

  • The police do not need a warrant to arrest for offences or conduct investigation of crimes under this Act.
  • On being arrested, bail cannot be claimed as a matter of right. The Court may accept or reject an application of bail in its discretion.

  • What are the duties of a Child Marriage Protection Officer?

16. Child Marriage Prohibition Officers.—

This section provides for the appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers, along with their powers and duties.

Duties of a Child Marriage Protection Officer include:

  • stopping child marriages from happening;
  • collecting proof so that the persons responsible for such marriages are sent to jail;
  • talking and advising people to not take part in, encourage or allow such marriages;
  • spreading awareness about why child marriages are wrong;
  • explaining the issues concerning child marriages to communities;
  • making regular reports for the State Government; and
  • performing any other functions assigned to her.

Sometimes the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer may have the powers of a police officer if it has been given such powers by the State Government.

A Child Marriage Prohibition Officer, in order to prevent child marriages, can apply to the court for:

  • annulling a child marriage;
  • maintenance orders;
  • custody orders; and
  • an injunction to stop a child marriage from happening.

  • What protection is available to the officer for his action taken in good faith under this act?.—
    Section 18-A Child Marriage Prohibition Officer cannot be pulled up in a court of law for anything she has done in good faith under this law.

 

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