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Muslim girls can marry at 16: Punjab and Haryana HC upholds minor marriage

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

The single-judge bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi passed the order on a plea by a Pathankot-based Muslim couple who had approached the court for protection.

“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,” the bench said.

Citing Islamic Sharia rule, Justice Bedi said 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, 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,” he said.

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

According to the petitioners, their marriage was solemnized on June 8, 2022, as per Muslim rites and ceremonies. However, their families are opposed to the union and had allegedly threatened them for marrying without their permission.

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

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