The Supreme Court has accepted to hear a plea filed by a “minor” Muslim girl, who has been ordered to stay in a shelter home for women in Uttar Pradesh after her marriage was found to be void by the Allahabad High Court.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by a 16-year-old Muslim girl who petitioned the court to validate her marriage saying she has attained puberty.
Citing the Supreme Court’s 2018 judgment in Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M., the Muslim girl moved the court through advocate Dushyant Parashar, challenging the Allahabad High Court’s decision which affirmed the order passed by the Trial Court directing the girl to be sent to women’s shelter home as the girl had not reached the age of marriage and thus her marriage was void.
In India under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the legal age of marriage is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. But the court in the Shafin Jahan case recognised that a Muslim marriage was valid if the following conditions were met: Both individuals professed Islam; both were of the age of puberty; if there was an offer and acceptance in the presence of two witnesses; giving of ‘mehr’; and absence of a prohibited degree of relationship.
Parashar told the Supreme Court that examining the facts of the case on the touchstone of the Shafin Jahan judgment, it would be a valid marriage as both the 16-year-old girl and her 24-year-old husband professed Islam, attained puberty, there was offer and acceptance, giving and taking of ‘mehr’ and a nikahnama was drawn with the consent of the girl and the boy.
The girl’s father had lodged a police complaint alleging that the man had kidnapped his minor daughter. But the girl recorded her statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, before a magistrate and said she married the man of her own volition without any pressure and that she wanted to live with him.
A Bench comprising of Justices N.V. Ramana, Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi entertained the petition and issued notice to the UP government and sought its response in two weeks.
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