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POCSO Act Overrides Personal Law, Minor Muslim Girl’s Marriage is Invalid: Karnataka High Court

While reviewing a bail case filed by a man who married an underage Muslim girl, the Karnataka High Court recently ruled that it is illegal to marry an underage Muslim girl who has reached puberty at the age of 15 years will not contravene the Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

The Bench of Justice Rajendra Badamikar further observed that POCSO Act is a Special Act and it overrides personal law as per this act, the age for involving in sexual activities is 18 years.

The High Court of Karnataka rejected the argument that marrying a minor Muslim girl who has reached puberty does not violate the Child Marriage Act. 

The POCSO Act is a special act and it overrides personal law. In POCSO Act, the age of sexual activity is 18 years. 

This order was passed by the Punjab Haryana High Court that a Muslim woman over the age of 15 may marry a person of her choice based on her own will and consent and such marriage would not be void in terms of Section 12 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006.

Case Brief 

Essentially, the defendants, in this case, were charged with offences punishable under Sections 9 and 10 of the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006 and Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act. He was married to a Muslim minor and made the girl pregnant. The case came to light when tests revealed she was pregnant. 

It is also revealed that she was around 17 years old. Therefore, the deputy inspector of the police of the police station K.R. Puram filed a complaint against the man. 

In seeking bail, his counsel at the Supreme Court argued that according to Muhammad’s law, puberty was the consideration for marriage. That normal puberty, in this case, treated him as being 15  years hence, in the instant case, since the girl had attained puberty, there was no commission of an offence under Sections 9 and 10 of the Child Marriage Restrain Act.

However, the Court categorically rejected this claim, emphasizing that the POCSO law is a special law and takes precedence over the rule of persons and that the age for sexual activity is 18 years. 

However, considering that the victim was around 17 years of age and was able to figure things out, the Court went on to observe that there was no evidence to show that she raised any objections to her marriage and therefore, it was prima-facie evident that she was also a consenting party though she was under the influence of her parents. 

In related news, the Supreme Court is set to examine the question if a minor Muslim girl can marry upon attaining puberty as recently it issued notice on the petition filed by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) challenging a recent judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which held that a 16-year-old Muslim girl can enter into a valid marriage.

Vanshika Jaiswal
Vanshika Jaiswal
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