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Over One Lakh Child Marriages Every Year: PIL Alleges In Bombay High Court, Notice Issued

Sharmeen Hakim
18 April 2022 2:00 PM GMT
Over One Lakh Child Marriages Every Year: PIL Alleges In Bombay High Court, Notice Issued
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The Bombay High Court has sought a response from the State Government on a public interest litigation which seeks formulation of rules for effective implementation of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The PIL alleges that absence of rules and non-implementation of the Act is resulting in almost one lakh child marriages every year and no action is being taken, leaving the victims...

The Bombay High Court has sought a response from the State Government on a public interest litigation which seeks formulation of rules for effective implementation of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The PIL alleges that absence of rules and non-implementation of the Act is resulting in almost one lakh child marriages every year and no action is being taken, leaving the victims to suffer.

A division bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and Abhay Ahuja, on Monday, observed that there hardly seemed to be any FIRs against child marriages and asked the State to file an affidavit by June 13, 2022 on steps taken against the practice.

A group of activists from different parts of the State have filed the petition seeking specific rules to be formulated and published by the State government within stipulated time. The PIL seeks a system to rescue such victims, prohibit the marriages and take penal action against parents to stop this menace. The petition also seeks that duties of the police officer be defined for handling of cases relating to child marriages; rehabilitation centres be established; and economic aid be provided to the victims of child marriage.

The Ministry Of Women and Child Development Department, Ministry of Social Justice, Ministry Of Education, Director General of Police and Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights have been made respondents in the PIL.

The petition, represented by Advocate Asim Sarode, refers to an incident from Ahmednagar where a minor girl, who was married off, escaped from her in-laws' home after being subjected to physical abuse and returned to her father's house. However, even the father tried to physically torture her when she went to the police.

The PIL states that rather than taking any action against the minor's parents or in-laws, the police asked them to refrain from physically abusing the minor and brushed the matter under the carpet. The petition, also citing certain responses under the Right to Information Act, states there are complaints of many incidences of child marriages in tribal belts and backward regions of the State.

The petition alleges that in light of the incident and data collected through queries under the RTI Act, it is clear that the police are reluctant in taking action or intervene as they do not want to disrupt the customary practices of people of the locality. Some measures suggested in the petition include not only registration of FIR, but also initiating the process to cancel the child marriage and keep a record of the same.

Additional Government Pleader Reena Salunkhe told the court that rules had been formulated and a committee had also been formed to look into the issue of effective implementation. The bench asked the State to file an affidavit with relevant details and adjourned the case.

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