KOTA BARU, Nov 28 — A total of 533 underage married couples were recorded in Kelantan in the past four years, Kelantan Islamic Development, Dakwah, Information and Regional Relations committee chairman Mohd Asri Mat Daud said today.

He added that the state government retained the age of marriage without amendment at 18 for boys and 16 for girls.

“So far, only 13 applications have been rejected due to certain factors and the approach of underage marriage is reasonable under the provision of Section 8 of the Kelantan Islamic Family Enactment 2002,” he said in reply to an additional question by Zubir Abu Bakar (PAS-Mengkebang) at the state assembly at Kota Darulnaim Complex here today.

He said that the benefits of underage marriage should be assessed comprehensively from aspects of the couple’s willingness and readiness to start a family and the question of ability is closely related to the strength of support and initial preparation by parents, maturity in decision making and their ability in parenting.

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“The meeting of Syarie judges decided to consider a minimum standard operating procedure (SOP) by the Kelantan Syariah Judiciary Department, considering Kelantan’s location bordering Thailand that makes solemnisation there very easy, something we wish to avoid occurring without the consent of their guardians.

“Till today, all underage marriage application approvals require the consent of the Syariah Court beforehand,” he said, as the matter is enshrined in Section 8 of the Kelantan State Islamic Family Law Enactment 2002 that states that no marriage can be solemnised under the Enactment if the boy is under 18 years of age or the girl is under 16 years old, with the exception that the Syarie judge gives their written consent under certain conditions.

He said that before the solemnisation can proceed, the application needs to be made at the Syariah Court, where the Syarie judge has the authority to approve or reject the application, adding that the judge would make the decision during trial in closed chambers involving the testimony from the underage applicant, their parents, witnesses and local imam or the Assistant Registrar of Marriage, Divorce or Ruju. — Bernama

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