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Muslim girls can marry after attaining age of 15 as their marriages are governed by Personal Law: HC

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"As per Article 195 from the book 'Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla', the girl is approximately 15 years of age and was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice," HC said in its order.

New Delhi, Dec 01: The Jharkhand High Court on Thursday referred to the Muslim Personal Law and ruled that a Muslim girl who has attained the age of 15 years or above has the liberty to marry a person of her choice and the guardians cannot interfere. The ruling came while the court was hearing a criminal case lodged against a Muslim person who married a 15 years old girl from within the community.

Reports said that the High Court dismissed the proceedings and ordered the cancellation of the FIR which was filed by the girl's father. In the FIR, the girl's father accused Mohammad Sonu (24) of persuading his daughter to marry him. The girl is from the Jugsalai area in Jharkhand. Mohammad challenged the move by the father and moved the Jharkhand High Court.

Muslim girls can marry after attaining age of 15 as their marriages are governed by Personal Law: HC

Interestingly during the hearing, the father of the girl said that he was no longer opposed to the marriage and he thanked the Almighty for arranging such a suitable match for his daughter. He also said that he had filed the FIR against Mohammad Sonu due to some misunderstanding. He also submitted in court that his daughter had found the right match by the grace of Allah and there was no other perfect match than Sonu.

"In view of this judgment, is clear that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by Muslim Personal Law. As per Article 195 from the book 'Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla', the girl is approximately 15 years of age and was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice," HC said in its order.

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"The petitioner is stated to be more than 24 years of age. Thus, both the petitioner and the girl attained marriageable age as defined by Muslim Personal Law. Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides for the protection of life and personal liberty and further lays down that no person shall be deprived of his or her life and personal liberty except as per the procedure established by law," the court observed.

The court also referred to the Yunus Khan vs the State of Haryana case where it was held that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the personal law. The Punjab and Haryana High Court too had said that a Muslim girl who reaches the age of 15 can marry whoever she wants and such a marriage would not be violative of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. According to the Sharia laws, the age of attaining puberty is 15. The Punjab and Haryana HC reassured that Muslim girls would continue to be governed by the Islamic Personal Laws.

There was however a contradiction when it came to verdicts delivered by two High Courts in rulings relating to sex with minors under POCSO. The Karnataka High Court had last month ruled that the POCSO Act overrules the Personal Law. It also declared that the marriage of a Muslim girl as invalid as it violates the Act.

Last month the Kerala High Court had said that a marriage between Muslims under the Personal Law cannot be excluded from the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court held that if one of the partners in the marriage is a minor then the provisions of the POCSO would apply.

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