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‘Solemnising of marriage is an offence, attempt to marry is not’

Could the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act be extended to include attempt to marry a child?

mumbai Updated: Nov 19, 2010 02:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Could the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act be extended to include attempt to marry a child?

This is the question before the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a petition filed by Zakia Begum seeking the quashing of the FIR filed against her in December 2009 for violating the Act.

Begum’s daughter, Aasma, was scheduled to marry a Ghatkopar resident. However, before the marriage could be solemnised, the police reached their Aurangabad residence and took the bride into custody.

On Thursday, additional solicitor general Darius Khambata, while arguing for the Centre, said in Begum’s case since the marriage was not solemnised, the FIR stands invalidated.

“Under the Act, only solemnisation of marriage is an offence. Attempt (to marry) is not (an offence),” said Khambata. Pointing out section 11 of the Act, Khambata said while it expressly prohibits promotion of child marriage, it applies only if the marriage actually takes place.

“If we accept your argument, then the FIR has to be quashed,” said justice AM Khanwilkar.

Yusuf Muchala, counsel for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which has intervened in support of the petitioner, said they are not questioning the validity of the Act, but felt that Begum was treated unfairly by the police and the child welfare committee.

Muchala said the Child Welfare Committee did not have the ground to take Aasma’s custody.

Prakash Wagh, advocate for Begum said police action was against the fundamental right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion, guaranteed by the Constitution of India in Article 25.

The division bench of Justice Khanwilkar and Justice AP Bhangale will continue hearing arguments on Friday.

First Published: Nov 19, 2010 02:17 IST