Muslim girls over 15 years can marry: HC

New Delhi: A Muslim girl over 15 years of age is competent to marry a man of her choice, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled. Holding that the “marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim personal law”, the High Court in an order passed last week granted police protection to a newly-wed Muslim couple.

The girl in the case is over 16 years of age, while the husband is over 21 years old. The couple had filed a protection plea, citing fear to their life and liberty at the hands of their kin.

Ruling that a Muslim girl is legally competent to marry on the completion of the age of 15 years, the HC relied on a 2014 judgment delivered by another judge of the same court.

Citing that order, the HC said “in the case of Yunus Khan it has been noted that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the personal law of the Muslims”.

The ruling also cited an article written in a book. “Article 195 from the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’ has also been reproduced in the said decision (2014 HC ruling)”, read the judgment passed by the HC on June 13. According to that article “every Mohammedan of sound mind who has attained puberty may enter into a contract of marriage”.

It also elaborates on the issue of “puberty”. The article reads “puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, on completion of the age of 15 years”. Referring to this article, the HC held “the petitioner (girl) being over 16 years of age was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice”.

The court clarified that “in any event, the issue in hand is not with regard to validity of the marriage but to address the apprehension raised by the petitioners of danger to their life and liberty”.

Referring to Article 21 of the Constitution, the HC held that the Constitution provides for protection of life and personal liberty.

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William Murphy

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