According to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in the case of Gulam Deen & Anr. versus the State of Punjab, a Muslim girl over the age of 16 is competent to enter into a marriage contract with a person of her choice. The order was issued by Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi‘s bench in response to a Muslim couple’s protection petition, in which a 21-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl had petitioned the HC for the protection of their life and liberty from family members. The petitioners in the case are the couple.
According to the petitioners, they fell in love and decided to marry some time ago. On June 8, 2022, their marriage was solemnised according to Muslim rites and ceremonies.
The petitioner couple argued, through their counsel, that in Muslim law, puberty and majority are synonymous, and that a person is presumed to have reached majority at the age of 15. They also claimed that once a Muslim boy or girl reaches puberty, he or she is free to marry whomever he or she wishes and that the guardian has no right to interfere.
The couple had also reported a threat to their lives to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Pathankot, but no action had been taken so far.
It should be noted that, according to Article 195 of Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’s book “Principles of Mohammedan Law,” any Mahomedan of sound mind who has reached puberty may enter into a marriage contract, and puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, at the age of fifteen years.
Court observed that “The Court cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the petitioners’ concerns must be addressed. The petitioners cannot be denied their fundamental rights under the Indian Constitution simply because they married against their family’s wishes “
“As per Article 195 of Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla’s book ‘Principles of Mohammedan Law,’ a girl over the age of 16 is competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice,” the Judge noted. The young man is said to be over the age of 21. As a result, according to Muslim Personal Law, both petitioners are of marriageable age.”
It is pertinent to note that the Union Cabinet approved the proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years on December 15, 2021. This move was aimed to bring the legal marriage age for women to the same level as it is for men, which is 21 years.
Smriti Irani, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, introduced the “Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021” in the Lok Sabha, with the goal of raising the age of marriage for women to 21 years across all religions.