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Muslim girls can marry at 16: Punjab and Haryana High Court upholds Muslim Personal Law

Upholding a minor's marriage, a single-judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that Muslim girls can marry of their own free will at 16.

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday, gave protection to a Muslim couple aged 16 and 21 years from their family members. It ruled that a Muslim girl over 16 years of age is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice.

Passing the order on a plea by a Pathankot-based Muslim couple, who had approached the court for protection, the single-judge bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi said, “Merely because the petitioners have got married against the wishes of their family members, they cannot possibly be deprived of their fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of India.”

Justice Bedi cited Islamic Shari’ah law and said the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim Personal Law.

India Today quoted him as saying, “As per Article 195 from the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law’ by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla, the petitioner No. 2 (girl) being over 16 years of age is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice. Petitioner No.1 (boy) is stated to be more than 21 years of age. Thus, both the petitioners are of marriageable age as envisaged by Muslim Personal Law”.

Saying that it “cannot shut its eyes to the fact that the apprehension of the petitioners needs to be addressed”, the court has directed SSP Pathankot to provide proper security to the couple and take necessary action as per law.

The petitioners told the court that their marriage was solemnized on June 8, 2022, as per Muslim tradition. They alleged that opposed to the union, their family threatened them for marrying without their permission.

Contending that in Muslim law, puberty and majority are one and the same, the petitioner couple claimed that there is a presumption that a person attains majority at the age of 15 years.

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