Girls above 18 years of age can marry without Wali’s consent: IHC

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday ruled that a girl above 18 years of age could marry without the consent of ‘wali’ (a male guardian) and directed the government to legislate to set the minimum age for girls’ marriage.

Justice Amir Farooq issued an 11-page written judgment in which Judicial Assistant Barrister Zafarullah Khan stated that the laws regarding minimum age for marriage were unclear. He also cited Surah Nisa (a chapter in the Quran) which clearly laid emphasis on the mental maturity of a person along with puberty for marriage.

The decree stated that many other Islamic countries had done legislation to set a minimum age for marriage and added that under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, it was an offense to marry a girl under the age of 16.

The court ruling allowed a girl over the age of 18 to marry without the consent of a guardian and cited the Hanafi school of thought in which the minimum age for a girl’s marriage was 17 years.

The court judgment also cited DF Mullah who set 15 years as the minimum age for a girl’s marriage. “However, along with puberty, the girl must be able to decide wisely and intelligently in her favour,” the decree said.

“The Holy Quran does not specify a minimum age for marriage of girls, but it does not preclude setting a minimum age,” it added. “In view of all these circumstances, the government should enact laws to set a minimum age for marriage of girls,” said the IHC verdict.

The Federal Shariat Court Wednesday ruled that a woman would have to return all Mehr (wedding gift) if she took Khula (a type of divorce initiated by wife) from her husband.

The court also declared the sub-sections 5 and 6 of Section 10 of Punjab Family Court Act as null and void. Earlier, a woman was bound to pay 25 per cent of Mehr if she took Khula from her husband. =