Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh toppers in child marriage, awareness and socio-economic measures needed: SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: Thousands of child marriages were solemnised across India in the last three years and the most incidents took place in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra, the Union government informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for ministry of women and child development, presented startling statistics on incidences of child marriage in the last three years before a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.
The Centre’s report, that collated the statistics sent by the state, revealed that in the last three years as many as 8,966 child marriages were performed in Tamil Nadu, followed by 8,348 in Karnataka, 8,324 in West Bengal, 4,440 in Telangana, 3,416 in Andhra Pradesh, 3,316 in Assam, 2,043 in Maharashtra, 1,206 in Gujarat, 1,197 in Uttar Pradesh and 1,104 in Haryana.
Bhati said that a similar number of child marriages were prevented prior to their solemnization by authorities in these states. However, very few FIRs have been registered against those involved in the perpetration and solemnisation of such marriages under Child Marriage prohibition Act, 2006.
When PIL petitioner NGO “Society for Enlightenment and Voluntary Action” through its counsel said prosecution of the offenders is few and far between and that the states have not given details as to status of the cases registered against perpetrators of child marriage, the bench agreed with the ASG that education, awareness and socio-economic welfare measures probably would be more effective to eradicate this social evil.
The petitioner also made a grievance that in most states child marriage prevention officers (CMPOs) duties are delegated to district magistrates and other officials and pleaded for creation of dedicated officials for the post. Bhati said that the district magistrates/SDMs/BDOs/Tehsildars have been given additional charge of CMPOs as their persuasions carry weight with the public.
The bench reserved verdict in the case and said it would examine what directions and guidelines could the court give to bolster the efforts of Union and state governments for eradication of this social evil.

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