The top court said the judgment, which held that Muslim girls aged 15 could enter into a marriage, should not be relied on as a precedent.
The Supreme Court on Friday, 13 January, agreed to examine a plea by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order that a Muslim girl can marry a person of her choice after attaining puberty.
The top court held that the high court judgment, which held that a Muslim girl aged 15 years could enter into a legal and valid marriage as per personal law, should not be relied on as a precedent in any other case.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha issued notices to the Haryana government and others and appointed senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao as amicus curiae in the matter to assist the court.
“We are inclined to entertain these writ petitions. Issue notice. Pending further orders, impugned judgment (of HC) shall not be relied upon as precedent,” the bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that Muslim girls who are 14, 15, and 16 years old are getting married.
“Can there be a defence of personal law? Can you plead custom or personal law as a defence against a criminal offence?” he asked.
The age of attaining puberty is 15 years, according to applicable personal laws in Islam.
The high court had passed the order while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by a 26-year-old man against the detention of his 16-year-old wife in a children’s home in Panchkula in Haryana.
It observed that 15 years was the age of puberty for a Muslim female, and she could on her own willingness and consent marry a person of her choice after attaining puberty.
Such a marriage would not be void in terms of Section 12 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, it said.
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