The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the city government’s response on a petition filed by a woman, who was married at the age of 16, challenging her marriage and seeking to declare child marriages performed in Delhi as void-ab-initio.

According to the petition, the woman was “compelled” to marry when she was 16 years old but never lived with the man or consummated the marriage. She completed her graduation and is further pursuing her studies.

Through the petition, she sought a declaration that her marriage was void-ab-initio. In law, the term void-ab-initio means “to be treated as invalid from the outset”. “A consent for marriage given under the age of 18 years cannot be held to be valid consent in any circumstances and as such said marriage should be imposed under the protection of making it a voidable marriage,” the petitioner stated.

Among other things, the woman also sought an appropriate direction to the Delhi government to declare the child marriages as performed in the state as void-ab-initio. Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the Delhi government are respondents in the plea. She has also requested for the necessary arrangement to provide complete protection from her husband and two other respondents.

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