The Punjab and Haryana High Court declared on Monday (June 20) that a Muslim girl beyond the age of 16 is competent to marry whoever she wants.

Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi presided over a single-judge bench that heard the case in which a 16-year-old and 21-year-old Muslim couple from Pathankot sought the court to seek protection from their family members. The couple informed the court that their marriage was performed according to Islamic rituals and ceremonies on June 8 of this year. They stated that they had received threats from family members who were against their marriage.

The Muslim couple’s lawyer contended that the majority and puberty are treated the same in Muslim personal law. He went on to say that it is assumed that a Muslim attains majority at the age of 15 and that such a person is allowed to marry whomever he or she wishes.
The petitioner couple argued that in Muslim law, puberty and majority are synonymous and that a person is presumed to have reached majority at the age of 15.

The Court determined that a Muslim marriage is governed by Muslim personal law, which permits marriages between people over the age of 16. (otherwise barred under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006).

“As per Article 195 of Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’s book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law,’ a girl over the age of 16 is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choosing,” the judge wrote. The young man is said to be beyond the age of 21. As a result, according to Muslim Personal Law, both petitioners are of marriageable age.”

The Punjab and Haryana High Court also granted the couple protection, ordering the SSP Pathankot to put in place adequate security measures. “The petitioners cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights as outlined in the Indian Constitution just because they married against their family members’ desires,” the court concluded.

The Court could also choose to ignore the petitioners’ concerns about their safety, according to the judge.

It’s worth noting that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 was filed in Parliament earlier this year, with the goal of raising the marriageable age of females to 21, the same as that of boys. Furthermore, the government stated while introducing the bill that it would apply to all girls, regardless of religion.

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