The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a Muslim girl can marry at the age of 16 as per the Mohammedan Law.

The Bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi decided a writ petition filed by a Muslim couple seeking police protection from their relatives. The couple got married as per Muslim rites and ceremonies since the girl is aged more than 16 years and the boy is more than 21.

It was argued on behalf of the couple that as per Muslim law, puberty and majority are one and the same and that there is a presumption that a person attains majority at the age of 15 years. It was further contended that a Muslim boy or Muslim girl who has attained puberty is at liberty to marry anyone he or she likes and the guardian has no right to interfere.

"The law, as laid down in various judgments cited above, is clear that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim Personal Law. As per Article 195 from the book 'Principles of Mohammedan Law by Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla', the petitioner No.2 being over 16 years of age was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice", the Court held.

The Court held that since the boy is stated to be more than 21 years of age, the couple are of marriageable age as envisaged by Muslim Personal Law. The Court noted that the issue before it was not with regard to the validity of the marriage but to address the apprehension raised by the petitioners of danger to their life and liberty at the hands of the private respondents.

"The Court cannot shut its eyes to the fact that the apprehension of the petitioners needs to be addressed. Merely because the petitioners have got married against the wishes of their family members, they cannot possibly be deprived of the fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of India"; the Court said while directing the police to consider the representation of the couple and take the necessary action as per law.

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