Rajasthan HC Takes Strong Stance Against Child Marriages, Holds Panchayats Accountable

Jaipur: In a significant order, the Rajasthan High Court has directed the state government to ensure that no child marriages take place during the upcoming Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) on May 10. The court also held village heads (panchs and sarpanchs) accountable for preventing such marriages in their jurisdictions.

The urgent order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Just Rights For Children Alliance, an NGO working on child protection issues. The PIL sought intervention to stop child marriages during Akshaya Tritiya, a time when such incidents see a rise.

A division bench comprising Justices Shubha Mehta and Pankaj Bhandari directed the authorities to closely monitor a list of 54 potential child marriages submitted by the petitioners. The list included 46 marriages yet to be held and a remaining number already solemnised.

The court ordered reports from Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs) on child marriages in their jurisdictions and the steps taken to prevent them. The state government was directed to ensure the listed 46 marriages don't occur.

While acknowledging the state's efforts in reducing child marriages, the bench stressed the need for further action. Citing National Family Health Survey V (2019-21) data, the court noted that 25.4% of women aged 20-24 years in Rajasthan were married before 18, compared to the national average of 23.3%.

Bhuwan Ribhu, founder of Just Rights For Children Alliance, called the order a landmark step. "Holding panchayati raj institutions accountable for reporting child marriages is crucial for behaviour change and child protection," he said.

This order by the Rajasthan High Court is seen as a significant step towards ending child marriages in the state, complementing India's ongoing efforts on this critical issue.


Related Articles

Next Story