The Supreme Courts verdict in the cases of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan in 2018 had recognised the ‘sharia’ provision of attaining puberty as a condition for a valid Muslim marriage. Now, a 16-year-old Muslim girl has petitioned the court to hold her marriage valid since she has attained puberty.
As per a report in Times of India, a 16-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh has moved to the Supreme Court through advocate Dushyant Parasar, challenging the Allahabad High Court’s decision to send her to a woman’s shelter home terming her ‘marriage’ invalid because she is underage.
The 16-year-old has cited the 2018 SC verdict on the Shafin Jahan case, where the court had recognised the 4 points that hold an Islamic marriage ‘valid’.
The 4 conditions were:
- Both the individuals are the adherents of Islam
- Both were the age of puberty
- There were an offer and acceptance in the presence of two witnesses and the giving of ‘Mehr’
- Absence of a prohibited degree of relationship
It is notable here that Indian law holds the legal age for marriage at 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys under the Special Marriage Act and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. However, in the case of Shafin Jahan Vs KM Ashokan in 2018, the SC had recognised the above provisions under Muslim law and had held the marriage of Shafin Jahan, and Hadiya (formerly Akhila Ashokan) as valid after Hadiya, then 26, had stated that marrying Shafin was her own decision.
The Kerala High Court had in 2017, called the marriage of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan a ‘sham’ and annulled it. Hadiya and Shafin had moved to the Supreme Court against the HC order and the SC had in March 2018, held their marriage valid. Shafin is under investigation by NIA for links to terrorist organisations and Hadiya’s father had alleged that he had forcefully converted his daughter.
A bench of Justices NV Ramana, Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi had accepted the UP teenager’s petition and had sent a notice to the UP government to respond within 2 weeks. Advocate Parashar has argued that as the 16-year-old has attained puberty, and all other conditions of a Muslim marriage have been met, her marriage to the 24-year-old man should be valid.
The girl’s father had filed a police complaint in Bahraich stating that the man had kidnapped his daughter. The girl, however, registered a statement before a magistrate under the Criminal Procedure Code and stated that she has married the man under her own volition. A Bahraich court had held the marriage as invalid considering the girl’s age. The girl’s ‘husband’ had filed a Habeas Corpus petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad HC. The Allahabad HC had dismissed the petition recently citing the Juvenile Justice Act for the girl’s age.
Advocate Parashar has cited the Shafin Jahan judgement where the SC had stated hat a woman had the right to choose a life partner. He further stated that the 16-year-old girl’s father is interfering with her right to live with her life partner whom she had chosen after attaining puberty and married through a valid ‘Nikahnama’.
The girl, a Muslim teenager of 16, had married a man named Javed against her family’s wishes on 22 June in Bahraich, UP.