Indict Muslims who wed off minor girls: Gujarat high court

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The Gujarat high court bench headed by Justice J B Pardiwala today has held that Prohobition of Child Marriage Act, commonly known as PCMA will take precedence over the Personal Law of Muslims in any case where a Muslim minor girl is married off before she attains marriageable age. Those who promote such marriages will have to face legal charges. This question was raised as the Sharia laws state that a girl can be married anytime after she attains puberty, which for most of the girls is around the age of 15. And Muslims generally tend to follow Sharia Law or at least try to follow it as closely as possible.

The matter before the court was that of abduction and rape charges that had been leveled against Yunush Shaikh (28). The case was registered in Gaekwad Haveli police station after Yunush Shaikh ran away with a 16 year old girl who lived in his neighborhood. They had illegally married last year in the month of December. As the girl was a minor according to Indian law and could not take her own decision legally, her father lodged an FIR with the Gaekwad Haveli police station. The sections 363, 366, 376 of the IPC, provisions of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) were invoked apart from the PCMA.

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The HC observed about rigidity on part of Islamic authorities in interpretation of ancient laws, “Those who have not allowed to change the Muslim Personal Law have done a great disservice to the community. At the same time, it is also true that as the social condition in the nation and throughout the world continues to change. The reality of life is that even without a code on personal law of Muslim in so far as the marriage is concerned, the child marriage is going into oblivion. Education, changing pattern of the family structure, the structure of the family in the context of reality of the world, and economic necessities are on their own precipitating the situation. The members of the community have realized the evil consequences of getting a Muslim girl married at a tendered age of 16 or 17 years.”

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