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Muslim girl over 16 yrs of age can marry a man of her choice, rules Punjab and Haryana HC

Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi passed an order in favour of a Muslim couple aged 16 and 21 years, seeking protection from their families under Article 21 of the Constitution.

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New Delhi: Last week on June 13, the Punjab and Haryana High Court judged that a Muslim girl over the age of 15 was eligible to marry according to the Muslim Personal Law. In the case, Gulam Deen vs State of Punjab and others, the single judge bench’s verdict stood in favour of a couple from Pathankot.

A Muslim couple aged 16 and 21 years, petitioned the court and sought protection for their life and liberty — which is granted according to Article 21 of the Constitution — from their family members. The two had solemnised their marriage on June 8, 2022 according to Muslim rites and ceremonies but their families stood against this union, claiming that it was done without their permission.

The single-judge bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi passed the order in favour of the couple from Pathankot asserting 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. It is further contented that a Muslim boy or Muslim girl who has attained puberty is at liberty to marry any one he or she likes and the guardian has no right to interfere.”

“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,” the judge said.

The judge also used the Yunus Khan vs State Of Haryana & Ors judgment and the Moh Samim vs State Of Haryana And Ors as precedents to further substantiate his ruling. In these cases, it was noted that a Muslim girl’s marriageable age was governed by the Muslim Personal Law, which equated one’s marriageable age with the age of puberty.

Further quoting Article 195 from the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’, the judge said that since the petitioner was over 16 years of age, she was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice.

The bench has directed the senior Superintendent of Police, Pathankot, to decide the representation of the petitioners and take further action as per law.

Also read: HC cites Panchatantra, stays ex-Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini arrest in all cases until Feb 2022


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