According to ‘Muslim Personal Law,’ a Muslim girl is free to marry anyone of her choice once she reaches puberty. The Indian High Court recently upheld this law.
The court’s ruling came after a Muslim couple filed with the court, pleading for protection from threatening relatives. Family members were opposed to their marriage due to the significant age difference between them. They sought protection from the Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).
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A Muslim woman (age 17) and a Hindu man (age 36) recently married, according to Muslim rituals, on January 21st. Prior to marriage, the couple tried to discuss their wishes with family members, hoping to gain support. But the couple did not expect them to become so hostile after they exchanged vows.
Family members made severe threats, which put them in danger, so the couple petitioned the court for help. The judge noted the Muslim Personal Law and declared they would not deny them of their fundamental rights just because they married without the acceptance of their families.
The Mohali SSP was directed by the court to provide protection of their lives and liberty, as allowed under the law.
The couple explained how they fell in love a few years ago. Then, they exchanged marriage vows according to Muslim rituals on January 21st. The couple freely chose each other to marry.
After consideration, the judge said that the court was mindful of previous judgments made. The marriage of the 17-year-old Muslim girl comes under Muslim Law. So, in this case, both the husband and wife are of marriageable age.
As the judge pointed out, Article 195 of the ‘Muslim Personal Law’ provides that every Mohammedan (Muslim) being of sound mind and having reached puberty may join their chosen spouse in matrimony.
Justice Alka Sarin quoted from Article 195, saying, "In case the evidence is unavailable or uncertain, the completion age of 15 should be considered as puberty age."
The law about the minimum age for marriage specifies it is 18 years old for females and age 21 for males, as it is written in two separate acts of the Indian parliament. The first is from the special marriage Act of 1954. The second comes from the child marriage Act of 2006. But, because the court gave preference to the ‘Muslim Personal Laws,’ which maintains that maturity and pubescence are equal, the age of puberty renders the person free to marry in harmony with their choosing. Thus the court declared, the age of marriage is about 15 years, upending decades of social reforms.