Punjab & Haryana HC rejects muslim couple’s contention that laws against child marriage will not apply to them

Read Time: 06 minutes

Husan Bano and her husband stated that even though they married before she reached the age of majority, Muslim personal laws should apply to them, which allow marriage once a person reaches puberty.

In a case involving underage marriage by a Muslim couple, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently observed that there doesn't seem to be any provision in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which carves out a distinction in favor of any particular community.

The counsel of the petitioner couple, who were seeking protection from the court, had argued before the court that petitioners being Muslims would be governed by Muslim Personal Law which allows any person above the age of puberty to get married.

However, the bench of Justice Amol Ratan Singh stated, 

"He(petitioner's counsel) has not been able to show, even today, any provision in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which carves out a distinction in favour of any community, by which any member of such community can get married at an age below the legally marriageable age as prescribed under the provisions of the said Act."

Accordingly, though the court disposed of the protection plea with a direction to the official respondents to ensure that the life and liberty of the petitioners is duly protected as per law; court made it absolutely clear that this order would not bar proceedings under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. 

Petitioner Husan Bano and her husband had filed a petition before the High Court seeking protection of their life and liberty at the hands of Bano's relatives, who were against Bano's union. 

In support of couple's plea, their counsel had referred to 8 orders/judgments by High Courts and had argued that even if Bano's husband was less than marriageable age as per Sections 2(a) and 10 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the couple were are still entitled to protection of life and liberty.

As per material available on record, Bano's age was disputed which varied from 17 years and about 3-1/2 months to 22 years on the date of marriage, whereas her husband was shown 19 years of age, which was still less than the legally marriageable age for males in terms of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Taking note of all these facts and circumstances, the court held that in none of the judgments referred by the petitioner couple's counsel, Section 15 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 was duly discussed which lays down that all offences punishable under the provisions of that Act are cognizable offences.

Therefore, the court even though directed the respondent authorities to ensure protection of petitioner's life and liberty, it did not bar proceedings in terms of Section 15 of the the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Case Title: Husan Bano and another v. State of Punjab and others