The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that a Muslim girl above the age of 16 years can marry a person of her choice.
The bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi gave this decision while hearing a petition filed by a Muslim couple. In this petition, a 21-year-old Muslim youth and a 16-year-old Muslim girl had sought protection of their life and liberty from their families.
What was said in the petition?
In their petition filed in the High Court, the Muslim couple said that they had fallen in love with each other sometime back and then they got married. They married on June 8, 2022, following Muslim customs.
The couple argued that under Muslim law, puberty and adulthood are one and the same thing and therefore a person is presumed to have attained majority at the age of 15.
Muslim boy and girl who have attained puberty have the right to marry by choice – petition
The couple said that a Muslim boy or girl who has attained puberty has the right to marry of his choice and that the parents cannot interfere. He said that he had given a memorandum to the Pathankot SSP for security, but nothing happened.
What did the High Court say in its decision?
Delivering the verdict on the couple’s plea, Justice Bedi said, “The law is clear that the marriage of a Muslim girl is covered under Muslim Personal Law. As per Article 195 of Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’s book ‘Principles of Muslim Law’, 16 years The petitioner number two (the girl), being above the age of two years, is eligible to enter into a marriage agreement with a person of her choice.”
Fundamental rights cannot be denied for marrying against relatives – Court
Justice Bedi said that since the age of the boy is also more than 21 years, both the petitioners are of marriageable age as per the Muslim Personal Law.
He said that just because the petitioners have married against the wishes of their relatives, they cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
He also directed the SSP of Pathankot to take steps as per the law on the demand of the petitioners.
Unlike the Muslim Personal Law, the Hindu Marriage Act has a minimum age of 18 for girls to marry. The Modi government at the Center has taken steps to increase it further and the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to increase the age of marriage of girls from 18 years to 21 years.
It was recommended by a task force set up by the government. She believes that raising the age of marriage will encourage women empowerment.