Muslim Personal Law Board to approach Supreme Court on Assam child marriage issue

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A case related to the minimum age of Muslim girls getting married is pending before the Supreme Court.

Huneza Khan |

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NEW DELHI – The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is preparing to approach the Supreme Court against the recent crackdown on child marriages in Assam, a member of its working committee said on Monday.

The decision was taken at a board meeting in Lucknow on Sunday, Guwahati High Court senior advocate and committee member Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury said.

“I raised the issue, and there was a detailed discussion on this,” he said.

A case related to the minimum age of Muslim girls getting married is pending before the Supreme Court.

Choudhury said according to Muslim personal law, a girl belonging to the Muslim community can get married after she attains the age of 15.

“The High Court of Punjab and Haryana in a verdict said that a Muslim girl can marry a man of her choice once she is 15 years old. These types of marriages are not illegal even as per the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006,” he said.

However, the high court judgement was challenged in the apex court by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The senior advocate informed that the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board would appeal to become a party in the above case.

“Although this case is not connected with Assam, both matters are related to the fixing of the minimum age of females for getting married. Therefore, we would like to be a party to it,” he added.

Choudhury alleged that the Assam government has not followed laws while arresting people on the child marriage issue.

The arrests have come in the wake of the Assam cabinet’s decision to book men who marry girls aged below 14 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Those who marry girls in the age group of 14-18 years will be tried under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, of 2006.

The offenders will be arrested and the marriages declared illegal, the government has said.

Chief Minister Himanta Sarma Biswa said men marrying girls below 14 years of age will be facing non-bailable charges, while those marrying girls between 14 and 16 years of age will be charged under bailable sections. If the groom is below 14 years of age, he will be sent to a reform house.

Choudhary said that child marriage must be stopped, “but before taking any such actions, the government should first spread awareness against it.”

Opposition to the move
The government’s crackdown on child marriages hasn’t gone down well with women in Assam, especially those from Dhubri, which has the highest number of child marriages in the state. Scores of women descended on the streets in Dhubri on Saturday as police came to arrest their husbands and sons. Demanding the release of their family members, the women gathered in front of the Tamarha police station.

Criticising the move, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi also hit out at the Assam chief minister asking what would be in store for the minor girls, whose husbands have been apprehended and put behind bars. He slammed Sarma for being ‘biased’ and said the move is an ‘administrative failure’ of the state as the BJP-led government is taking such action after ruling Assam for six years. (With IANS inputs)


Huneza Khan is a journalist from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. She tweets @KhanHuneza