Thirteen years ago, Ratnarashi Pandey, then 14, could not prevent her marriage.
The gritty girl from remote Annupur in Madhya Pradesh, though, has now driven the state government to reverse an archaic rule that bars people married below the legal age of 18 from appearing for state administrative services examinations.
The state cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday decided to drop the 12-year-old rule.
Suffering physical and mental abuse from the age of 14, Pandey got divorce from her husband, a resident of Satna 13 years after the marriage.
The mother of two continued her studies in adverse circumstances and appeared for the MP Public Service Examination (prelim) in 2008.
She qualified for the main examinations. But before she could take the examination, she was told that she was not eligible.
She moved the high court and then armed with the HC order appeared in the mains. Her result was, however, withheld.
Pandey appeared for the exam again in 2009, 2010 and 2013. The HC verdict went against her in 2012. She then moved Supreme Court. On April 16, 2012 the SC said, “Till further orders, one post in the MP state civil services may be kept vacant for the petitioner.”
After her real life story was shown on a TV channel MP state commission for protection of child rights wrote to the CM, which prompted the cabinet decision.
Pandey told HT, “Though delayed by five years, this decision would provide relief to hundreds of such candidates who suffer for none of their faults.”