14 February 2011




Section                                                                                    Page

   1.       Short title, extent and commencement                                             2

   2.       Definitions                                                                      2

   3.       Punishment      for  male   adult  below    twenty-one    years   of  age        3

           marrying a child

   4.       Punishment      for  male   adult  above    twenty-one    years   of  age        3

           marrying a child

   5.       Punishment for solemnizing a child marriage                                      3

   6.       Punishment      for  parent    or  guardian    concerned      in  a  child       4


   7.       Offences to be cognizable for certain purposes                                   5

   8.       Jurisdiction under this Act                                                      5

   9.       Mode of taking cognizance of offences                                            5

   10.      Preliminary inquiries into offences                                              5

   11.      Power to take security from complainant [Repealed]                               6

   12.      Power to issue injunction prohibiting marriage in contravention                  6

           of this Act.


                                                                                        [1st October, 1929]

                An Act to restrain the solemnization of child marriages

         Whereas it is expedient to restrain the solemnization of child marriages; It is
hereby enacted as follows:

         Preamble-Use   of.-  It   is   true   that   the   preamble   and   the   aims   and   objects
cannot be used for interpreting the statute.  The preamble as well as the aims and
objects   of   the   Act   can   be   used   for   limited  purpose   of   ascertaining   the   conditions
prevailing at the time of legislation and for finding out the purpose of the enactment
by furnishing valuable historical material.2

         Object and reasons of the Act.- The objects and reasons of the Act are to
be taken into consideration in interpreting the provisions of the Statute and not the
debates in Parliament on the Bill.3

         Intention of Legislature.- In Prithvi Pal Singh Bedi v. Union of India,  it was
held    that   literal  meaning      of   the  statute   must    be   adhered      to  when    there    is  no
absurdity in ascertaining the legislative intendment and for that purpose the broad
feature of the Act can be looked into.5

         Principle   of   “noscitur   a   sociis”-Application   of.-Where   two   constructions
are   possible,   that   which   would   be   more  conducive   to   reason   and   justice   is   to   be
preferred by applying the principle of noscitur a sociis.6

         Punctuation         marks-Effects.-It        is  well  known      that punctuation       marks     by
themselves do not control the meaning of a statute when its meaning is otherwise

         Words,   clear,   intelligible   and   unambiguous-Must   be   given   effect   to.-If
the   language   of   the   statute     is   clear   and   intelligible   and   does   not   admit   of   two

1 Published in the Gazette of India, 1927 Pt. V, p. 28.
2 Nagpur Hotel Owners Association v. Corporation of the City of Nagpur, A.I.R. 1979 Bom. 190 at p. 196;

Baboolal v. Direcdtor of Municipal Administration, A.I.R. 1974 Bom. 219 relied on.
3 Chern Taong Shang v. Commander S. D. Baijal, 1988(1) Crimes 524 at p. 529 (S.C.); see also Kameshwar

Singh Srivastava v. IVth Additional District Judge, Lucknow, A.I.R. 1987 S.C. 138 at p. 141.
4 A.I.R. 1982 S.C. 1413.
5 Jumman v. State of Uttan Pradesh, 1988 Cr. L.J. 199 at p. 203 (All.).
6 Sipra Dey, Smt. V. Ajit Kumar Dey, A.I.R. 1988 Cal. 28 at p. 33.
7 Dadaji alias Dina v. Sukhdeobabu, A.I.R. 1980 S.C. 150 at p. 156.

meanings,   effect   must   be   given   to   the   words   used   and   thus   the   intention   of   the
Legislature must be carried out.1

         Mandatory   rule   and   directory   rule-Difference.-The   difference   between   a
mandatory        rule   and    a  directory    rule   is  that   while    the   former    must    be   strictly
observed, in the
case   of   the   latter,   substantial   compliance   may   be   sufficient   to   achieve   the   object
regarding   which   the   rule   is   enacted.        Certain   broad   propositions   which   can   be
deduced   from   several   decisions   of   courts  regarding   the   rules   of   construction   that
should      be   followed     in  determining      whether     a   provision     of   law   is  directory    or
mandatory may be summarized thus: The fact that the statute uses the word “shall”
while laying down a duty is not conclusive on the question whether it is a mandatory
or directory provision.         In order to find out the true character of the legislation the
Court has to ascertain the object which the provision of law in question is to sub
serve and its design and the context in which it is enacted.                    It the object of law is to
be   defeated   by   non-compliance   with   it,   it  has   to   be   regarded   as  mandatory.          But
where   a   provision   of   law   relates   to   the   performance   of   any   public   duty   and   the
invalidation of any act done in disregard of that provision causes serious prejudice
to those for whose benefit it is enacted and at the same time who have no control
over the performance of the duty, such provision should be treated as a directory
one.    Where,   however,   a   provision   of   law   prescribes   that   a   certain   act   has   to   be
done in a particular manner by a person in order to acquire a right and it is coupled
with another provision which confers an immunity on another when such act is not
done   in   that   manner,   the   former   has   to   be   regarded   as   a       mandatory   one.         A
procedural rule ordinarily should not be construed as mandatory if the defect in the
act done in pursuance of it can be cured by permitting appropriate rectification to be
carried out at a subsequent stage unless by according such permission to rectify the
error later on, another rule would be contravened.                    Whenever a statute prescribes
that a particular act is to be done in a particular manner and also lays down that a
failure   to   comply   with   the   said   requirement   leads   to   a   specific   consequences,   it
would   be   difficult   to   hold   that   the   requirement is not mandatory and the specified
consequence should not follow.2

         Interpretation   must   further   and   not  frustrate   the   object   of   a   statute.-
Interpretation of a statute, contextual or otherwise must further and not frustrate the
object of the statute.3

         1.        Short title, extent and commencement.-(1) This Act may be called
the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
          (2)      It   extends   to   the   whole   of   India 1[except   the   State   of   Jammu   and

Kashmir] and it applies as also to all citizens of India without and beyond India:

1 Chandrabhan Chunnilal Gous v. Dr. Sharwan Kumar Kunnolal Gour, A.I.R. 1980 Bom. 49 at p. 51.
2 Sharif-ud-din v. Abdul Gani Lone, A.I.R. 1980 S.C. 303 at pp. 305-06; see also State of Jammu and Kashmir

v. Abdul Gani, A.I.R. 1979 J. & K. 17 at p. 20 (F.B.); Messrs. Choudhary v. Frick-India Ltd., A.I.R. 1979
Delhi 97 at p. 99.
3 Muddada Chavanna v. Karnam Narayana, A.I.R. 1979 S.C.1320 at p. 1323.

         2[Provided that nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the Renoncants of

the Union territory of Pondicherry.]
          (3)     It shall come into force on the 1st day of April, 1930.

         2.       Definitions.-In   this   Act,   unless   there   is   anything   repugnant   in   the
subject or context,-
                 3[(a) “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;]
                  (b)      “child  marriage”     means      a  marriage     to   which    either   of  the
         contracting parties is a child;
                  (c)      “contracting   party”   to   a   marriage   means   either   of   the   parties
         whose marriage is or is about to be thereby solemnized; and
                  (d)      “minor”   means   a   person   of   either   sex   who   is   under   eighteen
         years of age.

         3.       Punishment         for   male    adult    below     twenty-one        years    of   age
marrying a child.-Whoever, being a male above eighteen years of age and below
twenty-one,        contracts     a   child    marriage      shall   be    punishable       with    simple
imprisonment which may extend to fifteen days, or with fine which may extend to
one thousand rupees, or with both.

         Penal provisions-Interpretation.-The provision authorizing confiscation is a
drastic one.     In regard to such a provision it is well accepted that court should place
construction which is in favour of the subject.              Where the conjunction used is “or”
unless there are compelling reasons to read “or” as “and” it is well settled that any
word should be given its natural meaning.             If it was intended that both the conditions
must be satisfied there was no difficulty for the Legislature to use the expression
“and” instead of “or”.4

         4.       Punishment         for  male     adult    above     twenty-one        years    of   age
marrying a child.-Whoever, being a male above twenty-one years of age, contracts
a child marriage shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to
three months and shall also be liable to fine.

         Whoever-Meaning   of.-According   to   the   Shorter  Oxford   English   Dictionary,
Vol. 2, p. 2543, “whoever” means “any one who, any who”.                      The meaning given in
Webster Comprehensive Dictionary, International Ed., Vol.2 at p. 1437 is “any one
without exception any person who”.5

1 Subs. By Act 3 of 1951, Schedule.
2 Ins. By Act 26 of 1968, Schedule.
3 Subs. By Act 2 of 1978, Sec. 2 (w.e.f. 2nd October, 1978).
4 Somisetti Ramanath v. District Supply Officer, Chittoor, A.I.R. 1979 A.P. 9 at p. 20: see also Kamla Kant

Singh v. Chairman/Managing Director, Bennetta Colman and Co. Ltd., 1988(1) Crimes 106 at p. 109 (All.).
5 Rai Bahadur Seth Shreeram Durgaprasad, Messrs. V. Director of Enforcement, A.I.R. 1987 S.C. 1364 at p.


         5.        Punishment for solemnizing a child marriage.-Whoever performs,
conducts or directs any child marriage shall be punishable with simple imprisonment
which may extend to three months and also be liable to fine, unless he proves that
he had reason to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage.
          If   marriage   of   Hindu   male   below   eighteen   years   of   age   or   female   below
fifteen years of age is invalid or illegal.-The marriage of Hindu male below eighteen
years of age with a Hindu girl of fifteen years of age is not invalidated or rendered
illegal by the force of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929.                 It will remain a valid
marriage binding under the Hindu Law if otherwise performed under any recognized
form   of   Hindu   La.    It   would  be   seen   that   the   Child   Marriage   Restraint   Act   only
restrains a marriage of minors and that is its
Objective, but does not prohibit marriage rendering it illegal or invalid.                    It punishes
those persons who arrange that marriage and actively participate in celebrating it.
The minor spouses who get married are not punished under the Act.                             Once it be
held     that  the   marriage     itself  is  not  illegal  or  invalid   under    the   Child   Marriage
Restraint Act, 1929, then a debt incurred by the major members of the family for
marrying   a   minor   member   of  the   family   will   not   be   for   an   illegal   purpose   as   the
marriage is legal and the debt is incurred for the marriage.                It may be that the debt is
incurred for the marriage.         It may be that the consequence under the law would be
that   the   major   members   be   punished   for   their   act   in   making   arrangements   for
celebration of the marriage.1

         “May” and “shall”.-The word “may” implies what is optional, but it should in
some context in which it appears, mean “must”.  There is an element of compulsion.
It is power coupled with a duty.          In Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 11   Ed., p.
31, the principle is stated thus: “Statutes which authorize persons to do acts for the
benefit of others, or, as is sometimes said, for the public good or the advancement
of   justice,   have   often   given   rise   to   controversy   when   conferring   the   authority   in
terms simply enabling and not mandatory.                  In enacting that they ‘may’ or ‘shall’ ‘if
they think fit’, or ‘shall have  power’ or that ‘it shall be lawful’ for them to do such
acts, a statute appears to use the language of mere permission but it has been so
often   decided   as   to   have   become   an   axiom   that   in   such   cases   such   expressions
may have to say the least a compulsory force, and so would seem to be modified by
judicial    exposition.”     The    word    “may”    even     if  it  was  prima    facie  enabling,     the
Legislature may use it in the sense or “must” or “shall”.2

         6.        Punishment for parent or guardian concerned in a child marriage.
-      (1) Where a minor contracts a child marriage, any person having charge of the
minor, whether as parent or guardian or in any other capacity, lawful or solemnized,
or   negligently   fails   to   prevent   it   from   being   solemnized,   shall   be   punishable   with

1 Parasram v. Smt. Naraini Devi, A.I.R. 1972 All. 357 at p. 359.
2 Delhi Administration v. I.K.Nangia, A.I.R. 1979 S.C. 1977 at p. 1980; Sohan Lal v. Hodal Singh, A.I.R. 1979

All. 230 at p. 232.

simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and shall also be liable to

          Provided that no woman shall be punishable with imprisonment.

          (2) For the purposes of this section, it shall be presumed, unless and until the
contrary is proved, that where a minor has contracted a child marriage, the person
having   charge   of   such   minor   has   negligently  failed   to   prevent   the   marriage   from
being solemnized.

                                       STATE AMENDMENT
         Gujarat.   –After   Sec.   6   of   the   principal   Act   the   following   section   shall   be
inserted namely:
          7.      Offences to be cognizable. –Notwithstanding anything contained in the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898), now new Code of 1973 (2 of 1974),
an offence punishable under this Act shall  be deemed to be a cognizable offence
within the meaning of the Code.1

         Family.   –The   word   “family”   has   to   be   given   not   a   restricted   but   a   wider
meaning   so   as   to   include   not   only   the   head  of   the   family   but   all   members   or
descendants   from   the   common   ancestors   who   are   actually   living   with   the   same
head.     The term “family” must always be liberally and broadly construed so as to
include near relations of the head of the family.2
         3[7.    Offences   to   be   cognizable   for   certain   purposes.   –The   Code   of

Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), shall apply to offences under this Act as if
they were cognizable offences-
         (a)      for the purpose of investigation of such offences; and
         (b)      for the purpose of matters other than (i) matters referred to in Sec. 42
                 of   that   Code,   and   (ii)  the   arrest   of   a   person   without   a   warrant   or
                 without an order of a Magistrate.]
         8.       Jurisdiction under this Act. –Notwithstanding anything contained in
Sec. 190 of the 4[Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974)), no court other than
that   of   a  3[Metropolitan   Magistrate   or   a   Judicial   Magistrate   of   the   first   class]   shall

take cognizance of, or try, any offence under this Act.
         Offences   under   the   Act   cannot   be   tried   by   any   Court   other   than   the
Courts referred therein. –There is an express prohibition under Sec. 8 of the Child
Court other than the Courts referred to therein.               Even any other Court cannot take
cognizance of such offences.            In view of this express prohibition in the special law
which     has   an   overriding    effect,   it  is  evident   that  even    though    the   committing
Magistrate   has   committed   the   accused   to   stand   their   trial,   for   offences   under   the
Penal Code, which are triable by the Sessions Court, will not have jurisdiction to try

1 Ins. By Gujarat Act 11 of 1964, Sec. 2.
2 Baldev Sahai Bangia v. R.C. Bhasin, A.I.R. 1982 S.C. 1091 at pp. 1093-94.
3 Ins. By Act 2 of 1978, Sec. 3 (w.e.f. 2nd October, 1978).
4 Subs. By Sec. 4, ibid.

these offences under the Act.  The reason underlying it is that there is an express
prohibition   in   special   law   which   has   got   overriding   effect   over   the   provisions   of
general law.1

         9.       Mode     of   taking    cognizance       of  offences.     –No    Court    shall   take
cognizance of any offence under this Act after the expiry of one year from the date
on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

         10.      Preliminary   inquiries   into   offences.   –Any   Court,   on   receipt   of   a
complaint of an offence of which it is authorized to take cognizance, shall, unless it
dismisses the complaint under Sec. 203 of the 2[Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

(2 of 1974)], either itself make an inquiry under Sec. 202 of that Code or direct a
Magistrate subordinate to it to make such inquiry.
         Power vested in Magistrate to postpone  issue of process. –Any Magistrate
on receipt of a complaint of an offence of which he is authorized to take cognizance
may do one of the two things.           (1) He may for reasons to be recorded in writing, if
he thinks fit, postpone the
Issue of process for compelling the attendance of the person complained against.
The content of the power vested in the Magistrate to postpone the issue of process
for compelling the attendance of the person complained against, would also cover
the    power     of  issuing    process     for  compelling      the   attendance      of  the   person
complained   against.       (2)   After   doing   one   of these two things, the Magistrate may
either enquire into the case himself or he can direct any Magistrate subordinate to
him   to   make   an   enquiry   only   for   the   limited   purpose   of   ascertaining   the   truth   or
falsehood of the complaint.3

                                      STATE AMENDMENT
         Gujarat. –Section 10 is deleted.4

         11.      Power to take security from complainant. – [Repealed by the Child
Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1949 (41 of 1949), Sec. 7].

         5[12.    Power   to   issue   injunction   prohibiting   marriage   in   contravention

of this Act. – (1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Act, the
Court     may,    if  satisfied,  from   information    laid  before    it  through   a   complaint    or
otherwise that a child marriage in contravention of this Act has been arranged or is
about to be solemnized, issue an injunction against any of the persons mentioned in
Secs. 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this Act prohibiting such marriage.

1 State of Gujarat v. Fulsinh Bhimsing, A.I.R. 1971 Guj. 1 at p. 6.
2 Subs. By Act 2 of 1978, Sec. 5 (w.e.f. 2nd October, 1978).
3 Jagadeesa Thevar V. Rajabakita Theval, 1971 Cr. L.J. 1350 at p. 1351 (Mad.).
4 Deleted by Gujarat Act 11 of 1964, Sec. 3.
5 Ins. By Act 19 of 1938, Sec. 6.

          (2)   No   injunction   under   sub-section  (1)   shall   be   issued   against   any   person
unless the Court has previously given notice to such person, and has afforded him
an opportunity to show cause against the issue of the injunction.

          (3)   The   Court   may   either   on   its   own   motion   or   on   the   application   of   any
person aggrieved, rescind or alter any order made under sub-section (1).

          (4) Where such an application is received, the Court shall afford the applicant
an early opportunity of appearing before it either in person or by pleader; and if the
Court rejects the application wholly or in part, it shall record in writing its reasons,
for so doing.

          (5) Whoever knowing that an injunction has been issued against him under
sub-section   (1)   of   this   section   disobeys   such   injunction   shall   be   punished   with
imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or
with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both:
          Provided that no woman shall be punishable with imprisonment.]

                                       STATE AMENDMENT
         Gujarat.   –After   Sec.   12   of   the   principal Act   the   following   sections   shall   be
added, namely:
          “13.   Child Marriage Prevention Officer. – (1) The State Government may,
by   notification   in   the   official   Gazette,   appoint   for   the   whole   State   or   for   such   part
thereof as
may   be   specified   in   that   notification,   an   officer   to   be   known   as   Child   Marriage
Prevention Officer.

          (2) It shall be the duty of the Child Marriage Prevention Officer –
                 (i)       to   prevent   marriages   being   performed   in   contravention   of   the
                          provisions of this Act by taking such action under this Act as he
                          deems fit;
                 (ii)      to   collect   evidence   for   the   effective   prosecutions   of   persons
                          contravening provisions of this Act; and
                 (iii)     to discharge such other functions as may be assigned to him by
                          the State Government.

         (3)  The State Government may, by notification in he official Gazette, invest
the Child Marriage Prevention Officer with such powers of a police officer as maybe
specified in the notification and the Child Marriage Prevention Officer shall exercise
his   powers   subject   to   such   limitation   and  conditions   as   may   be   specified   in   the

         (4)    The     State    Government       may     associate     with   each    Child    Marriage
Prevention   Officer   a   non-official   advisory  body   consisting   of   not   more   than   five
social welfare workers, of whom at least two shall be women workers known in the

area within the jurisdiction of the officer for the purposes of advising and assisting
him in the performance of his functions under this Act.

         (5)   The   terms   and   conditions   of   appointment   of   persons   on   the   advisory
body shall be such as may be prescribed by rules.

         13-A.    Officer    appointed      under    the   Act  to   be   public   servant.    –The    Child
Marriage   Prevention   Officer   appointed   under  Sec.   13   shall   be   deemed   to   be   a
public   servant   within   the   meaning   of   Sec.   21   of   the   Indian   Penal   Code   (XLV   of

         13-B.  Protection of action taken in good faith. –No suit, prosecution or other
legal proceedings shall lie against the Child Marriage Prevention Officer appointed
under this Act in respect of anything in good faith done or intended to be done in
pursuance of this Act or of any rules or orders made thereunder.2

         14.       Power to make rules. – (1) The State Government may, by notification
in the official Gazette, make rules, for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of
this Act.

         (2)    In   particular   and   without   prejudice   to   the   generality   of   the   foregoing
provision, such rules may provide for all matters expressly required or allowed by
this Act to be prescribed by rules.

         (3)   The   power   to   make   rules   conferred   by   this   section   is   subject   to   the
condition of the rules made after previous publication.
         (4)  All rules made under this section shall be laid for nor less than thirty days
before the State Legislature as soon as possible after they are made, and shall be
subject to rescission by the State Legislature or to such modifications as the State
Legislature may make during the session in which they are so laid or the session
immediately following.

         (5)  Any rescission or modification so made by the State Legislature shall be
punished in the official Gazette and shall thereupon shall take effect.”3

1 Ins. By Gujarat Act 11 of 1964, Sec. 4.
2 Ins. By Gujarat Act of 1973, Sec. 2.
3 Ins. By Gujarat Act 11 of 1964, Sec. 4.

Other Measures to Prevent Child Marriages:

         Apart   from    the  implementation       of the   Child   Marriage     Restraint    Act,  the

Department has taken the following measures to prevent Child Marriages: -

     All      the   Programme        Officers    (ICDS)    in  the   districts   have    been    given

        instructions   to   keep   a   watch   on   child  marriages   and   report   such   cases   to

        District   Administration   and   appropriate   authorities   for   taking   action   as   per

        Child Marriage Restraint Act.

     Director         Panchayats,        State     Women       Commission         all   the    Deputy

        Commissioners and Superintendents of Police and Programme Officers have

        been circulated instructions received from National Commission for women

        to launch Bal Vivah Virodh Abhiyan.

     Department has also requested Dowry Prohibition Officers to keep vigial on

        Akha Teej & during marriage season to prevent child marriage.

     Department   has   also   instructed   Programme   Officers   /   Child   Development

        Project     Officers   to  be  vigilant  regarding     child  marriages     during   marriage


     Instructions issued to all the Programme Officers to bring provisions of the

        Child   Marriage   Restraint   Act   to   the   notice   of   all   Sarpanches   as   well   as

        Pandits, Granthis and Molvees who get the marriages solemnized through a

        letter   to   them.  The   format   of   letter  to   be   sent   by   all   Child   Development

        Project Officers to above mentioned persons periodically given in annexure.

     Directions given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition Civil No. 212

        of   2003   conveyed   to   all   Superintendents   of   Police   in   the   State,   Secretary

        Home   Department,   director   General   Health   Department,   Director   Primary   /

        Higher Education, Director Panchayat and Secretary, Revenue Department,

        Haryana to monitor the implementation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act,

        1929 and  to give wide  publicity to the provisions of the Act to educate the

        public about it so that the menace of early child marriage which violates the

        provisions of the said act is fully taken care of.

 NGOs   are   being   involved   by   organizing   vocational   /   cultural   activities   for

children through Education Department.

 Awareness against child marriages is being created through Public Relations

Department, Haryana and Haryana State Social Welfare Advisory Board.

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