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I live in Mumbai, India, and am married to a 17 year old girl from Mumbai. Recently, we had to file a police case against a man who was misbehaving with my wife. After knowing my wife's age, the police was suggesting me not to file a case as even I might get arrested, if the case reaches court, because I am married to 17 year old girl. Though I have filled the case and the culprit is under arrest, and the court hearing is after a month.

Can I even get arrested for marrying a 17 year (underage) girl?

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The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 apparently sets no lower limit on marriage for Muslims. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 then defined a child as a female under 18 and a male under 21, and a child marriage is one where at least one party is a child. The law then says that "Every child marriage is voidable at the option of the contracting party who was child at the time of solemnization of marriage". The punishment (not at the discretion of the child) for a male offender is rigorous "imprisonment which may extend to two years" or a fine of 100,000 rupees (or both). While the political question of modifying the law to allow Sharia and Nikah to prevail for Muslims, the current law does not allow this.

The crime is a cognizable offense (section 15), meaning that no court order is required for police to arrest without warrant, and bail is not available.

  • So "child marriage" is prohibited only if, at any time after reaching age of majority, the child spouse chooses to void the marriage? At which point the original adult spouse is guilty of a crime? – feetwet Oct 19 '16 at 17:19
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    No, the child has that option (presumably via civil process). Independently, the government may prosecute for said crime. This is section 10 of the law. – user6726 Oct 19 '16 at 17:24
  • One would think that whoever performed the marriage wouldn't knowingly allow an illegal marriage, and would know the age of the bride. This seems bizarre. – gnasher729 Oct 20 '16 at 11:51
  • Punishment goes to everyone except the children, except that no woman may be imprisoned. – user6726 Oct 20 '16 at 15:20

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