Are the laws restricting marriage of minors not applicable to Muslims in India?
The Bombay High Court is expected to pass a judgment on the issue in a petition filed by an Aurangabad resident, whose 15-year-old daughter’s marriage was stalled by the Mumbai police.
The petitioner, Zakia Begum, has said her daughter was scheduled to marry a Ghatkopar resident, Arshad Akramuddin Haji Khan, on December 10 last year.
However, a few hours before the marriage, the Ghatkopar police reached the bride’s residence in Aurangabad following a complaint lodged by her maternal uncle and took her in custody.
The police also booked several members of both the families for violating the provisions of the Restraint of Child Marriage Act, 1929.
The girl was later produced before the Child Welfare Committee and sent to a private shelter home in Versova.
Begum, through lawyer Prakash Wagh, contended that the restrictions on minor’s marriage as provided in the Child Marriage Restraint Act were not applicable to Muslims in India.
The petition added that the Muslim Personal Law has recognised the age at attainment of puberty or the age of 15 for adulthood for personal matters like marriage, alimony and divorce.
Begum contended that the action of the Ghatkopar police in her daughter’s case was in violation of the rights conferred up on her by Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to freely profess, practise and propagate the religion of their choice.
She also cited judgments of the Supreme Court, which has held that Muslim Personal Laws would prevail over other enactments in conflicting situations concerning personal matters like marriage and divorce.
The petition will come up for hearing before a division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar on January 29.