Two women’s organisations moved the Bombay High Court on Monday opposing a petition that said legal restraint on child marriage was not applicable to Muslims.
NGOs Awaz-e-Niswan and Forum Against the Oppression of Women filed an intervention application against the petition filed by Aurangabad resident Zakia Begum challenging provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
In December 2009, the Ghatkopar police, following a complaint, rescued Begum’s 15-year-old daughter hours before her wedding. The teenager is lodged in a private children’s home on orders of the Child Welfare Committee.
Begum filed a petition challenging the police action on the ground that the Muslim Personal Law prescribes marriageable age for girls as 15 years or on attaining puberty, whichever is earlier.
The two NGOs opposed the petition saying child marriage amounts to abuse and exploitation and has harmful effect on the health, education and well being of the child.
“A statutory provision that upholds constitutional values and addresses a social wrong cannot be considered unconstitutional if it conflicts with a personal law,” said their intervention application.
Their lawyer Mihir Desai pointed out that the Supreme Court has in many cases held that “general codified legislations would prevail over un-codified personal laws”.
A division bench of Justice Dilip Bhosale and Justice AR Joshi adjourned the matter and directed Desai to submit the Supreme Court judgments cited by him.