15-yr-old Muslim girl’s marriage valid: court
The Delhi High Court has said a Muslim girl can marry as per her choice at the age of 15 years if she has attained puberty.
Observing this, the High Court held a marriage of a minor girl valid, allowing her to stay in her matrimonial home. ‘This court notes that according to Mohammedan Law, a girl can marry without the consent of her parents once she attains the age of puberty and she has the right to reside with her husband even if she is below the age of 18,’ a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg has said.
Girl’s mother had filed a habeas corpus petition for the production of her daughter. She had alleged alleged that her daughter was a minor [aged 15] when she was kidnapped. Her husband reported the matter to the police and an FIR was registered for kidnapping.
She said in her petition that after the abduction of her daughter, she received telephonic threats from the kidnapper stating that if she took any legal action against him, he would kidnap her other daughter. She alleged that she had approached police but it took no action.
After she filed the petition in the High Court police traced her daughter, who appeared in the court and stated that she voluntarily went away with her alleged kidnapper and has married to him.
They were living as husband and wife since then. Her daughter also told the court that she did not wish to go back to her parents and that she wanted to continue to stay with her husband. In the meanwhile, the minor girl was kept in Nirmal Chaya.
Citing various Supreme Court judgements on the issue of minor Muslim girls’ marriage, the bench said, ‘In view of the above judgments, it is clear that a Muslim girl who has attained puberty i.e. 15 years can marry and such a marriage would not be a void marriage. However, she has the option of treating the marriage as voidable, at the time of her attaining the age of majority, that is 18 years.’
Accepting the 16-year-old girl’s plea to allow her to stay in her matrimonial home, the bench disposed of the petition.
Meanwhile, to ascertain the girl’s well being, the court has directed the couple and in-laws to appear before the Child Welfare Committee once in every six months till the girl attains majority.
‘The Committee shall take necessary steps, including obtaining the necessary undertaking from the man(husband) in this regard. Subject to completion of these steps, the girl be allowed to live in her matrimonial home,’ the bench said.