On Monday, the Supreme Court bench Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph, while dismissing a public interest litigation filed seeking to lower the legal age of men to marry from 21 to 18, also imposed a cost of Rs.25,000/- on the petitioner saying that there was no "public interest" involved in the petition.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Asok Pande, referring to various provisions of statutes dealing with the issue of majority, said there was no rationale in a male being eligible to vote in elections at the age of 18 years, but he not being eligible to marry. Challenged the provisions of the the Special Marriage Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act and the Hindu Marriage Act which deal with the minimum marriageable age for men the petition alleged that they are violative of various fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, saying that, "The above mentioned provisions of three different Acts, fixes different age of marriage of the girl and the boy, so the petitioner has come forward to challenge the validity of the Acts."
It was further contended by the petition that the provisions were "unreasonable, unjust and improper" and also violative of Article 15 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth adding that, at the age of 18, every male and female get the right to vote and choose their legislators and a person comes out of the definition of a 'juvenile' upon attaining the age of 18 years that.
During the hearing, the Court refused to entertain the plea saying that there was no "public interest" involved in the petition, adding that the petitioner, who was aged above 50 years, had no locus standi to file the petition. Saying that such a plea cannot be a matter of "public interest" and an affected person can come to the court", the Court added, "If any 18-year-old person approaches us with such kind of a petition, then we will give him the cost deposited by you (Pande)." Finally, the Court held, "Dismissed with a cost of Rs 25,000," while also rejecting the plea that the fine be waived.