Child marriage law applicable to Muslims too: HC
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to hand over the custody of a 15-year-old Muslim girl, rescued by the police hours before her marriage, to her parents saying legal provisions restraining child marriage would also be applicable to Muslims.mumbai Updated: Feb 17, 2010 01:27 IST
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to hand over the custody of a 15-year-old Muslim girl, rescued by the police hours before her marriage, to her parents saying legal provisions restraining child marriage would also be applicable to Muslims.
“Otherwise, you would get tender girls of 12-13 years age married off,” said Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar while rejecting the plea for custody of the girl. “It is a health hazard,” added Justice Desai.
The Ghatkopar police rescued the girl from her Aurangabad residence on December 10, 2009. Her parents were booked under various provisions of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, on orders from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The CWC had directed the police to keep the girl at a private mahilashram. The girl’s mother, Zakia Begum, had challenged the police action saying the Muslim Personal Law allowed a girl to get married on attaining puberty or at the age of 15, whichever was earlier.
She also said the police action violated the rights conferred by Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees every citizen freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion of his or her choice. On Tuesday, Begum’s lawyer, Prakash Wagh, urged the court to hand over the custody of the girl saying she was unhappy where she was now.
Public Prosecutor Usha Kejriwal said a judgment in which the Supreme Court had held that Muslims were not exempted from legal provisions restraining child marriage.
The Ghatkopar police have moved an application before the magistrate to change provisions applied in the case since Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006, has replaced the Restraint of Child Marriage Act, 1929. The high court adjourned the hearing until March 15.