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No coercive action against man who married minor Muslim girl: Gujarat HC

The Gujarat High Court has ordered that no coercive action can be taken against a 21-year-old man, who eloped with a 15-year-old Muslim girl and married her in accordance with Sharia law, which holds marriage of a Muslim minor girl who has attained puberty legitimate.

Justice JB Pardiwala, however, directed the police to carry out an investigation into the girl’s alleged kidnapping after her father, a resident of Jamnagar, filed an FIR against the man, Jainulaabedin Yusuf Ganji.

After an FIR was registered on November 10, 2016 at Jamnagar’s ‘A’ division police station, Ganji filed an application in the high court for quashing the FIR and produced the ‘nikaahnama’ (marriage proof) to prove that he had not kidnapped the girl. While seeking relief, he also referred to an earlier order passed by the same court which held marriage of a minor Muslim girl legitimate as she had attained puberty as per the Islamic law.

The court, while setting aside his application on November 22, 2016, said no coercive action shall be taken against him and directed the police to conduct an investigation, and also file a charge sheet (against Ganji), if deemed fit (on charge of kidnapping). Following this, the girl’s father filed a modification application telling the court that Jainulaabedin and his daughter had also signed a live-in-relationship agreement, while arguing that the police had not initiated any investigation into the matter.

The court, in its order passed on December 26, 2016 said, “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 (Jainulaabedin).” Jainulaabedin Ganji had eloped with the girl on November 9, 2016 from Jamnagar, and the same day, the two formalised their marriage as per Sharia law and also entered into a live-in-relationship agreement, apparently to make sure that their action was legitimate.

When the girl’s father came to know about it, he filed an FIR against the man for kidnapping. The next day, he received a post which contained the live-in agreement signed by the duo.

In his modification application, the girl’s father produced the live-in relationship agreement before the court, which was not produced by Jainulaabedin in his application seeking quashing of the FIR. He has contended that the minor girl cannot enter into a legal agreement.