The single-judge bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld the marriage of a 16-year-old Muslim girl in a recently passed order. When a couple, a 21-year-old male and a 16-year-old female, approached the court for protection, the court ruled that a Muslim girl over the age of 16 is competent to contractually enter into marriage with a person of her choice.
“Merely because the petitioners have got married against the wishes of their family members, they cannot possibly be deprived of their fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of India,” the bench stated.
According to the court, the marriage of the couple was ratified on June 8, 2022, as per Muslim rites and ceremonies. The couple argued on the grounds of Muslim tradition, stating that “in Muslim, law, puberty and majority are one and the same". The couple further argued that a person attains majority (and consequently the maturity required for marriage) by the age of 15. Therefore, no guardian has the right to interfere in the personal matters of the couple.
The bench approved is the line of argumentation, stating that “Merely because the petitioners have got married against the wishes of their family members, they cannot possibly be deprived of their fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of India”, the bench said.
Justice Bedi emphasized the importance of Muslim Personal Law in this matter. According to Justice Bedi “As per Article 195 from the book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law’ by Sir DinshahFardunji Mulla, the petitioner No. 2 (girl) being over 16 years of age is 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 Muslim Personal Law”.