The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that as per Muslim personal law, a Muslim girl over the age of 15 years is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with the person of her choice, the Bar and Bench portal has reported.
Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi arrived at this finding while hearing a petition seeking protection of life and liberty by a Muslim couple who fell in love and married as per 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”, noted the single-judge.
The petitioners moved the court on the ground that their life and liberty was in grave danger at the hands of the respondents. Thus, they sought a direction to the police to consider their representation seeking protection.
The petitioner submitted that as per Muslim law, puberty and majority are one and the same, and that there is a presumption that a person attained majority at 15 years of age.
It was further contended that a Muslim boy or girl who attains puberty is at liberty to marry anyone they liked, and guardians had no right to interfere.
The Court, in this regard, placed reliance on the judgment in Yunus Khan v State of Haryana where it was noted that a Muslim girl’s age of marriage was governed by Muslim personal law.
The Court also adverted 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'.
The explanation to that Article provides that puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, on completion of the age of fifteen years.
In this case, since the girl was over 16 years and boy was stated to be over 21 years old, both the petitioners were concluded to be of marriageable age.
Moreover, the Court pointed out 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 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”, said Justice Bedi.
With this, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Pathankot was directed to decide the petitioners’ representation and take action accordingly.
Advocate Sanjeev Kumar represented the petitioners.