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Punjab & Haryana High Court allows minor Muslim girl to marry Hindu man as per Personal Law Board even though she married as per Hindu rituals

"The law is clear that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim Personal Law, the court said

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the police to provide protection to a 17-year-old Muslim girl who had married a Hindu boy against the wishes of her family and relatives. The court, in its order, noted that being a Muslim girl, she was at liberty to marry anyone of her choice once she attained puberty, implying that minimum age law for marriage does not apply to Muslims in the country. The court further added that the guardian had no right to interfere.

The 17 year old Muslim girl had married a 33 year old Hindu man at a Hindu temple as reported by Live Law. However, she has sought protection under the Muslim Personal Law Board. In case of inter-religious marriages, if a person does not convert to the religion of the spouse, the same is registered under the Special Marriage Act. In which case, Muslim Law Board rules will not be applicable. Similarly, if the Muslim girl married as per Hindu rituals in Hindu temple to a Hindu man and if she had reverted to Hinduism, then the same shall be governed under the Hindu Marriage Act, in which case, too, Muslim personal law would not be applicable.

Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill said, “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.”

He further observed, “The court cannot shut its eyes to the fact that the apprehension of the petitioners needs to be addressed. Merely because the petitioners have got married against the wishes of their family members, they cannot possibly be deprived of the fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution.”

The couple had approached the court to get protection

The petition was filed by one Nargis, who is 17-year-old and her 33-year-old Hindu Husband, in which they sought police protection as the family of the girl were not happy with the marriage.

The advocate representing the petitioner told the court that under the Muslim law, when a girl attains puberty, she is considered to be a major. Thus, keeping that presumption in mind, a person who belongs to Islam attains majority at the age of 15 years. The advocate further added that when a Muslim girl or a Muslim boy attains puberty, they have the right to marry the person of their choice and the guardian has no right to interfere in the matter.

He quoted Article 195 of the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’ in which it was noted that “every Mahomedan of sound mind, who has attained puberty, may enter into a contract of marriage.”

Bill introduced to increase the marriageable age of girls irrespective of religion

It is noteworthy that recently Smriti Irani, Union Minister, Women and Child Development, introduced the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021. The bill sought to increase the marriageable age of girls to 21, equal to that of boys. Furthermore, while introducing the bill, the minister added that it would be applicable to every girl irrespective of religion.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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