Punjab and Haryana High Court granted police protection to a 16-year-old Muslim girl who had married a 21-year-old Muslim boy. The bench issued orders noting that the girl is of marriageable age under Muslim Personal laws.
The High Court bench comprising Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi was hearing a petition filed by a Muslim couple who solemnized their marriage under Muslim rites and ceremonies.
“The law, as laid down in various judgments cited above, 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’, the petitioner No.2 being over 16 years of age was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice,” the bench stated.
The petitioners have stated that their life and liberty was in grave danger at the hands of the respondents.
The petitioners have submitted that puberty and majority are one and the same, and that there is a presumption that a person attained majority at 15 years of age.
A Muslim boy or girl who attains puberty is at liberty to marry anyone they liked, and guardians had no right to interfere, they added.
The bench also referred to the Yunus Khan v State of Haryana where it was held that the marriageable age of a Muslim girl is governed by Muslim personal law.
The bench also drew attention to Article 195 from the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law’ by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla which states that every Mahomedan of sound mind, who has attained puberty, may enter into a contract of marriage.
As per that Article, puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, on completion of the age of fifteen years.
Noting that the issue in the petition was not with regard to the validity of the petitioner’s marriage, but protection of their fundamental rights, the bench stated, “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 of India.”
Therefore, the High Court bench directed Senior Superintendent of Police, Pathankot to decide on the petitioner’s representation and take action accordingly.