According to Sunni Islamic law, it is compulsory for the woman to get the permission of her wali or guardian — usually her parents — to get married.
In this case, the Kerala High Court observed, the parents — who did not convert to Islam — did not give permission for the girl to get married.
Last year, Akhila, who was doing house surgency in Salem in Tamil Nadu after completing her Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine, joined ‘Satya Sarani’ — an islamic study center in Manchery in Kerala.
This was followed by the girl’s father filing a missing person report. The girl’s father, Asokhan, argued that she was being brainwashed and plans were afoot to send her to Syria to fight for the ISIS.
When the case came up for hearing, the court allowed the girl to continue her Islamic studies after she said that she went to the study center of her own will.
However, under Islamic law, a girl cannot be released ‘on her own’, but must be released under the custody of either her father or husband. Since she was unmarried, the court was considering releasing her to her father.
However, even as the case was being heard, the girl informed the court that she had married a Muslim youth in December 2016.
At this point, the court expressed its consternation and directed the police to move Akhila to a hostel in Eranakulam.
In its order today, the High Court observed that the girl claims to have got married according to Islamic principles, but did not take her wali‘s permission, as was required.
Moreover, since she was a Muslim, under Islamic law, she can be released only to her husband or her father.
Since her marriage is annulled, the court released her under her Hindu father’s custody.
Under India’s religion-specific laws, citizens have the right to conduct their personal matters — such as marriage, inheritance and so on — according to the laws laid down in any religion that they choose to follow. These laws would then be binding on the judiciary.
Alternatively, any citizen of India can get married under India’s ‘Special Marriages Act’, under which the couple do not need to take the permission of their guardians, but only need to produce two witnesses for the marriage.