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Can a Muslim girl under 18 get married on grounds she has attained puberty? SC to examine

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New Delhi, Sep 11: The Supreme Court would decide on an important matter with regard to a petition filed by a 16-year-old Muslim girl, who has sought that her marriage is validated.

The girl petitioned the court seeking for her marriage to be validated saying that she has attained puberty. The legal marriage for a girl to get married in India is 18 and for a boy, it is 21.

File photo of Supreme Court

However, in the Shafin Jahan case, the court had recognised that a Muslim marriage was valid if both individuals professed Islam, both were the age of puberty, if there was an offer and acceptance in the presence of two witnesses, giving of meh and absence of a prohibited degree of relationship.

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The 16-year-old challenged the decision of the Allahabad High Court, which directed that she be sent to a women's shelter. The court had held that the marriage was invalid on the ground that she was not of marriageable age. The girl through her counsel cited the 2018 verdict in the Shafin Jahan vs Asokan K M case while challenging the order of the High Court.

Her lawyer, Dushyant Parashar cited the Shafin Jahan case and said that the court had held that the right to chose a life partner was a constitutionally guaranteed right. She married the boy after attaining puberty and the girl's father was interfering with her right to live with her life partner, whom she had married through a valid nikahnama.

The father of the girl had lodged a complaint alleging that she had been kidnapped. He said that his daughter was a minor, but the girl recorded a statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before a magistrate. She said that she married the man of her choice without any pressure and wanted to live with him.

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The lower court however ordered that she be lodged in the custody of the Child Welfare Committee till she turned 18. The husband then filed a habeas corpus petition in the High Court. The court, however, rejected his plea and said that she would be treated as a minor and hence the marriage was void.

The Supreme Court issued notices to the UP government and sought its response in two weeks.

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