The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that a Muslim girl below 18 years of age and has attained puberty is at liberty to marry anyone as per Muslim Personal Law. The decision came after the High court relied on literature of Muslims marriages and judgements of various courts.
Referring to the Article 195 from the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law’ by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla, the High Court observed that a Muslim girl on attaining the age of puberty was competent to enter a contract of marriage with a person of her choice.
The Article 195 from the Mulla’s book defines, “Every Mohomedan (Muslim) of sound mind, who has attained puberty, may enter into a contract of marriage. Lunatics and minors who have not attained puberty may be validly contracted in marriage by their respective guardians. A marriage of a Mohomedan who is (of) sound mind and has attained puberty is void if it is brought about without a consent.”
“Puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, on completion of the age of fifteen years,” according to the book.
The order was passed by Justice Alka Sarin who passed the order while hearing a petition filed by a Muslim couple from Punjab.
The petition was filed by a 36-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl who married on January 21, 2021 as per Muslim rites. The couple had sought directions for protection of their life and liberty from their relatives who were against the relationship.
The petitioners had argued that in Muslim law, puberty and majority are one and the same and there there is a presumption that a person attains majority at the age of 15 years. The couple also contended that a person, be it a boy or girl, who has attained puberty is free to marry anyone he or she likes without the guardian’s right to interfere.
The judge hearing the petition ruled that a Muslim girl is governed by Muslims personal law. Simply because the couple has married against the wishes of their family members, they cannot be deprived from their fundamental rights.