Adding a new twist to the controversy over the government order on registration of marriage of Muslim boys and girls, a legal view has emerged that the order was issued based on a “non-existing provision in a non-existing law.” Legal commentator Kaleeswaram Raj has said that the controversial order was based on a law that was never enacted in India and was liable to be recalled and cancelled.
The circular stated that “as per the Muslim Marriage Act, 1957, it is not stipulated that a Muslim girl should attain the age of 18 years or a Muslim boy should attain the age of 21 years at the time of marriage”. However, there is no law titled the ‘Muslim Marriage Act, 1957” in the country and as such, there is no such legal stipulation either, he said. The government was wrongly advised in the matter. The author of the circular, the Principal Secretary to government, relied on a law prevailing in the country of Jamaica. In India, the age with respect to Muslim marriage is determined by the principles of Mohammedan law which are not codified. There is a reference to marriage of girls below 15 years in the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, vide S.2 (vii) thereof. The Indian Parliament has not passed any law stating that minors can contract marriage if they belong to the Muslim community, he pointed out.
The circular also wrongly indicated that Parliament had endorsed such child marriages. Hence, the circular is liable to be recalled and cancelled, he said.
Meanwhile, the State government is understood to have asked the State Law Secretary to visit the objections raised against the order and come out with a report in a day or two. M.K. Muneer, the Minister for Panchayats and Social Justice, had held discussions with senior officials of the department regarding the order. The government may consider issuing a revised order to bring clarity to the issue after receiving the report, sources said.
The order had created a furore in the State as various sections of the community and political parties took sides on the issue. CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said there was strong opposition to the order from progressive sections of the people even within the Muslim community. He had also called for the cancellation of the order.