The Gujarat High Court has directed the police to refrain from taking any ‘coercive steps’ against a 21-year-old man who eloped with a minor girl, but solemnised the marriage as per the ‘Sharia law’, which legitimises marriage of Muslim minor girls post puberty.
The court, however, directed the Investigating Officer to continue investigations into the girl’s alleged kidnapping, as claimed by her father.
The court had, on the November 22nd 2016 hearing, held that while no coercive action can be taken against the man, investigations into the charge of kidnapping ‘shall proceed in accordance with law’. Following this, the father had filed a modification plea alleging that the man, Jainulaabedin Ganji, and his minor daughter had also signed a live-in agreement, but no investigations were being carried out in that respect.
Justice JB Pardiwala on 26th December stated, ‘Let me remind the Investigating Officer that this Court has not stayed the investigation. All that the Court has said is that no coercive steps be taken against the applicant. On the contrary, this Court has clarified that in the event if the Investigating Officer decides to file the charge-sheet, he shall follow the principles explained by this Court in the case of Yunusbhai Usmanbhai Shaikh vs. State of Gujarat.’
He ordered the Investigating Officer to commence investigation at the earliest, which had been hindered because of the misconception.
21-year-old Jainulaabedin Ganji had eloped with a 15-year-old girl on November 9, 2016, from Jamnagar. The two formalised their alliance and got married as per Sharia Law, which holds marriage of a minor girl who has attained puberty as legal. They also entered into a live-in relationship agreement, in an attempt to legalise their move. The girl’s father had however, filed an FIR against the man on November 10th at Jamnagar police station for kidnapping his minor daughter.
Ganji filed a plea in the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR and also produced the marriage proof, nikaahnama, to contest allegations of kidnapping; they also sent a copy of the live-in agreement at her father’s residence. The father produced the agreement before the court and also claimed that a minor girl cannot enter into a legal agreement. Ganji, however, put forth an order passed by the same court, which had held marriage of a minor Muslim girl legitimate as she had attained puberty as per the Islamic law.
Read the Order here.