The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) on Monday ruled that the prerogative to set the minimum age for marriage lies with the state.
The Shariat court issued its verdict on a petition filed by Ali Azhar, the ex-husband of Arzoo Fatima, who had contracted free-will marriage after converting from Christianity to Islam at the age of 13 in 2020.
The Sindh High Court declared her marriage invalid for being underage and sent her to a shelter home in November 2020.
Later, her ex-husband moved the Shariat Court, challenging the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, which prohibits the marriage of any child under the age of 18 years old.
The court, in its judgement, turned down Azhar’s petition and ruled that the state has the right to set the minimum age for marriage. The state’s action was not "contradictory" to the Islamic laws, the Shariat Court observed.
The SHC, in October 2021, had dismissed a petition that challenged the Sindh Child Marriages Restraining Act 2013 terming it against the injunctions of Islam and the Constitution.
The petitioner, Azhar, had requested the high court to declare the vires of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraining Act, 2013, to be against the injunctions of Islam and against the Constitution, so that they would not be applicable to Muslims.
He also sought a declaration that the definition of a child given in the Sindh Child Marriages Restraining Act’s Section 2(a) would be governed or changed with the sign of puberty for Muslims.
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