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A Muslim girl may marry after reaching puberty: High Court

A Muslim girl is free to marry whomever she chooses once she reaches puberty, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled while ordering the police to protect a 17-year-old Muslim girl who was married against the wishes of her family. A Muslim couple, who married according to Muslim rituals, approached Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill for protection.

‘The law is clear that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim Personal Law. As per Article 195 from the book, ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’, Petitioner No.1 (girl) being 17 years of age, is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice. Petitioner No. 2 (her partner) is stated to be about 33 years old. Thus, Petitioner No. 1 is of marriageable age as envisaged by Muslim Personal Law,’ a report in Times of India quoted from the judge’s observation.

Justice Gill explained that the petitioners cannot be deprived of their constitutional rights merely because they married against the wishes of their family members. According to the couple, puberty and majority are the same things in Muslim law, and one is regarded as attaining majority at age 15. The couple’s lawyer argued that since both the wife and husband are over 15, their marriage is valid and they are entitled to protection.

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The court’s observations are released amid a political debate about the central government’s proposal to require all men and women to marry by the age of 21 by amending the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. As of now, the legal marriage age in India is 18 for women and 21 for men who aren’t covered by personal laws. Following opposition questions for further discussion, a parliamentary standing committee has been tasked with reviewing the proposed amendment to proscribe child marriage at 21 years of age.


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