The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a Muslim girl above 15 years of age is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice.
Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi’s assertion came during a petition filed by a Muslim couple, who fell in love and solemnised their marriage on June 6, 2022, as per Muslim rites and ceremonies. Both the petitioners in Punjab’s Pathankot had approached the High Court seeking protection of life and liberty from the respondents, including family members.
Pointing out that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim Personal Law, Justice Singh stated “...As per Article 195 from the book Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla, the petitioner No. 2 (girl) being over 16 years of age was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice. Petitioner No. 1 (boy) is stated to be more than 21 years of age. Thus, both the petitioners are of marriageable age as envisaged by the Muslim Personal Law.”
In his order on June 13, Justice Singh, however, pointed out that the issue in the case was not with regard to the validity of the marriage but to address the apprehension raised by the petitioners of danger to their life and liberty at the hands of the private respondents and to provide them protection. He directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Pathankot, to decide the representation of the petitioners and take necessary action as per law.
“...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 Singh.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that in Muslim law, puberty and majority were one and the same and that there was a presumption that a person attained majority at the age of 15 years.