''Muslim girls can't nullify marriage on their own''

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (UNI) No Muslim girl can nullify her marriage on her own, the Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) today said, rejecting as ''baseless'' media reports suggesting she was now empowered to declare the ''forced Nikah'' null and void.

''No girl can nullify her marriage on her own. Only a Qazi who can decide in such matters,'' IFA official Mufti Nadir told UNI here.

He refuted the media report suggesting that a Muslim girl had the right to choose her husband and if forced to marry against her wish, she could declare the marriage null and void.

Mufti Nadir said the report distorted the decisions at a Fiqh Seminar organised by the Academy in April 2001.

The report was taken from the IFA web site where the recommendations of the seminar organised in Katauli of Maleehabad town of Uttar Pradesh are posted, he added.

''No such official statement or a media release had been issued by the IFA recently,'' the Mufti said.

He also clarified that Amin Usmani, who was quoted by the report in the capacity of the General Secretary of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, was only a Secretary, that too in the management.

The Mufti, however, asserted that forced marriage was not acceptable in Islam and it was ''always desirable'' that parents should ask for their children's consent.

''But, if any dispute arises, a marriage could be nullified by a Shariah court or a Qazi,'' he said.

Mufti Nadir also criticised the report, saying it not only convoluted the recommendations of the seminar but there were acts of ''omissions and commissions'' as well.

''The report seems to suggest matters of marital discord can also be decided by some other legal authorities, besides the Qazi, which is absolutely wrong,'' he asserted.

The recommendation made by the 13th Seminar of the Islamic Fiqh Academy (India) held at Jamia Syed Ahmad Shaheed at Katauli in Malihabad district in April 2001 regarding forced marriages states: ''In case a Shariah Judge is convinced of the coercive means resorted to by a girl's guardian to force her for marrying a man she does not like and has been made to pronounce consent under threat and the girl does not agree to continue this alliance and demands separation while the husband is not prepared to be separated from her, the Shariah Justice has right to nullify the Nikah in order to save the girl from injustice.'' UNI YA-AG RR BD2004

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