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July 1, 2012 / subramanyam

Marriage @ 15 ?

          Work at office has kept me busy, I had been longing to write on this subject  for the last week or so. However, something or the other,  either  at office or at home was coming up and I was unable to write anything for the past 15 days. Ok, without wasting much time let me get into the topic.

          The recent judgement of the Delhi High Court that a muslim girl can marry at the age of 15, incase she has attained her puberty was a real shock to me.  In this case the court cited Mohammedan law and noted that a Muslim girl can marry even without her parents consent once she has attained the age of puberty and she has the right to reside with her husband even if her age is less than 18.  

          Well, I have nothing against the court , or it’s judgment. Courts merely uphold the laws made by the country’s lawmakers. My question is “why do we have such laws in India ?”. In India we had child marriages at one time. While I am not aware if this practice existed in Muslim households, I am sure this was a practice that was widely prevalent in Hindus.  At least that’s what I read in my high school text books.

          For decades, there was a sustained campaign to eliminate child marriages from the Indian households, the government not only funded these campaigns handsomely, but also came up with laws prohibiting child marriages. As per the government of India a guy cannot marry unless he is 21 and a girl can’t marry unless she is 18. .  Thanks to these campaigns, today the practice of child marriages has comedown (almost close to zero) in the hindu households.

          If that’s the case how could the court uphold the plea of the Muslim girl and pass the order saying that a Muslim girl 18 can marry and stay with her husband. Here lies the catch, we have a lot of religious laws in this country. We have a Hindu law, a Muslim law etc .. governing various communities. The community specific laws are deviating from the laws of the land on vital issues.  So, when people go to court citing the clauses in those community specific laws, the courts are being forced to give judgments of this sort.

          In this case, the Mohammedan law  might have correctly considered the physical puberty of the girl but for sure did not consider the mental puberty, which I think is vital for a matter like marriage. I really doubt if people can make  correct choices about marriage and other big decisions of life when they are less than 18 years old. Don’t you think people at that age can easily be influenced by people around them ? In that case, will not this law be abused ? Can we imagine the repercussions if this law is misused widely? Shouldn’t girls of that age be in high school/ junior college studying their subjects ?

          Isn’t it time we had a common civil code (across all communities, religions ,states and languages) at least on vital matters like this?


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