The Chief Justice agreed to issue a notice in the matter and tag it along with the earlier similar petitions filed by the NCPCR against other high court judgments
NEW DELHI — The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling that a minor Muslim girl can enter into a legal and valid marriage as per personal law should not be relied upon as a precedent in any other case, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha passed this interim order while issuing notice in a special leave petition filed by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights challenging the high court ruling on the ground that it goes against the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act which prescribes 18 years as the age for sexual consent.
The girl in question is 15 years old.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the NCPCR, expressed concerns about using personal law as a defence for crimes under POCSO.
“Girls who are 14, 15, 16 are getting married. Can there be a defence of personal law? Can you plead custom or personal law for a criminal offence?”, the SG submitted. “We are on the question if the marriage will be valid at all in the face of criminal law existing and the POCSO Act”, media reports quoted Mehta as saying.
The Chief Justice agreed to issue a notice in the matter and tag it along with the earlier similar petitions filed by the NCPCR against other high court judgments which have taken the same view. The SG requested the bench to stay the judgment in the meanwhile.
The bench also appointed senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao as amicus curiae in the matter to assist the court.
“We are inclined to entertain these writ petitions. Issue notice. Pending further orders, impugned judgment (of HC) shall not be relied upon as precedent,” the bench said.